Mar 022011

Since just before Apple’s introduction of the iPhone 3Gs, TMA has felt a twinge of anxiety every time Apple introduces a new mobile device. It goes something like this: Apple breaks ground with an innovative new device that sends the competition to their photocopiers for 9 months or so. The first run-offs get laughed out of the marketplace, but like a blind sniper ranging his target, manufacturers’ offerings land ever closer to the original, their shots approaching the same zip code around the time of the Apple event. Some hardware specs start nudging into Apple’s offering. Pundits shift from the “Apple is great, but” mode they use to bitch about the company’s manufacturing processes or App Store approval policies – because no popular Apple-related news survives without some antagonism in the title – to “Apple needs to respond to legitimate competitive threat” mode. Knowing that Apple only does one of these things once a year, the niggling sets in: will Apple miss a beat this time? Will they improve their product in too small an increment to survive this year’s onslaught of knock-offs?

Then, of course, Apple releases an update that stomps the wannabes back into their developmental stone ages for another 9 months. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Today, the latest beam of vermin-scattering illumination came courtesy of the iPad line, delivered by an on-sabbatical Steve Jobs. The iPad 2 is faster, lighter and packs front and rear-facing cameras and a couple of snazzy new peripherals. A couple of things I found interesting:

  1. Jobs made a point of mentioning that the iPad2 could stream video in 1080p. Because Apple hasn’t historically been one to offer a feature that isn’t supported by its media, this suggests that 1080p content could be coming to iTunes.
  2. We got a preview of the iPhone 5 processor: the A5. Sporting dual cores, its 9x faster than the A4.
  3. Just when you thought cases couldn’t be interesting, Apple finds a way to turn a protective covering into thinly-veiled sex. The use of magnets in the iPad’s bezel and the minimalism of the new Smart Covers is classic Apple.
  4. I was rolling my eyes for the first 30 seconds of the Garageband demo, but by the time the “Touch Instruments” came around, I was intrigued.

So once again, Apple has driven the majority of the tech press back to their holes with a superior mobile device update. Not to worry: they’ll be right back at their keyboards as soon as Jobs says something too candidly for their sensitive ears or does something a for-profit company would do to succeed.

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