iPad celebrates first birthday as murmurs of its successor continue
January 27, 2011, marked the one year anniversary of the Apple iPad, and after a year of borderline ridiculous sales and PC market share growth of 241 percent, Apple has rocketed up to become the third largest PC maker by sales behind HP and Acer, depending on who you ask. (Research firms like Canalys say they count as PCs, Gartner and IDC say they don’t. Either way, no one can deny that Apple has yet again stumbled across a game changer. The original iPad currently accounts for a whopping 90% of the tablet market, an incredible amount for one single supplier in any market. But now, on the anniversary of Apple’s greatest hit in years, the only question is: can Apple relive its fortune in 2011?
Rumors are already swirling about the iPad 2 which is expected to begin initial production as early as February with Apple’s longstanding partners Foxconn and Pegatron being involved with the devices creation. According to reports, Apple will also add four more PCB suppliers for the iPad 2 — Nan Ya PCB, Compeq Manufacturing, Meiko, and Gold Circuit Electronics (GCE) — in addition to the original PCB suppliers — Ibiden, Tripod Technology, and TTM Technologies. Meanwhile, certain new suppliers, such as Qualcomm, are expected to score big with recent design wins over rivals like Infineon to provide the iPad 2 with baseband chips, which will enable their use on both CDMA and GSM/UMTS networks. With a debut anticipated for sometime in the summer, and the hopes of selling as many as 30 million units by the end of 2011, it seems like Apple and its suppliers are expecting a repeat smash success, but ultimately that’ll be up to the consumer. And before we automatically start putting an iPad 2 into the hands of every man, woman, and child, we should ask first, what can we expect this time around?
The first had several customer led complaints, including considerable screen glare and lack of any camera, all while being a little on the heavy side. From the sounds of things Apple has heard its consumers loud and clear and is working to address these the second time around. For one, every leak on the Internet claims the body of the new iPad will be both thinner and lighter, with a better display and better speakers. While this is a nice change, it’s hardly revolutionary; most devices get slimmer and lighter as time goes on. Another certainty is that the iPad 2 will follow both the latest iPhone and iPod Touch by having both a forward and backwards facing camera for picture taking and video chats. Again, this isn’t really a leap forward as most smartphones and tablet rivals already come standard with a similar camera function.
Maybe the most revolutionary feature in terms of the new iPad will be its ability for NFC functionality. NFC (Near Field Communications) is a wireless technology already found in many of the more advanced smart phones of Japan and South Korea, but is just beginning to rear its head in the North American market. Basically, the idea is that through short range communications the iPad can send and receive information from a receiver at a distance of up to 4 inches, allowing the individual to use the iPad as a debit card to instantly make payments for many everyday items.
It will be curious to see if NFC payment, in particular, will become a strong selling point for the device, and will help Apple reach its 30 million units target. It may be just the feature that makes the iPad 2 the must have item of 2011. In reality, it may fall a little short, especially now that it’s not the only dog in town. Also, just how many people would actually lug their iPads around with them to the grocery store or gas station only to avoid pulling the debit card out of their wallets? I’m guessing not many. Then again, we analysts have been wrong about this sort of thing before. I distinctly recall most industry experts predicting the original iPad would be a flop after its release, so is it that hard to believe that Apple will go and surprise us all again?
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