Is Steve Jobs' iPad 2 launch a poison pill to Apple rivals?

Threatening to overshadow even the announcement of a new model was the re-emergence of Steve himself. After a medical leave of absence in January, Jobs was back on stage in San Francisco to rousing applause and a standing ovation. By his own admission, he "didn't want to miss this," as the company proceeded to showcase a 33 per cent thinner (8.8mm) and 15 per cent lighter (1.3ibs) iPad 2. It has that all-important front and rear-facing camera, the dual-core processor and still holds the 9.7-inch LED-backlit LCD - but lovers of the iPhone 4's high-res retina display will be left wanting.

The connoisseurs of all things tech, TechCrunch had their own take on the iPad 2 moments after release:  "The announcement was conspicuous for its lack of truly major announcements. Rumours have been flying left and right about potential new features, but virtually none actually manifested," they said.

For his part, Steve was quick to take a swipe at rivals including HP, Android and RIM. "While others have been scrambling to copy the first generation iPad, we're launching iPad 2, which moves the bar far ahead of the competition and will likely cause them to go back to the drawing boards yet again," he said.

RIM and HP have both announced they are bringing new tablets to the market later this year and the 2.4 Gingerbread update of Google's Android OS is slated for release next month. No wonder Jobs labelled 2011 the "year of the copycats."

Ah, but hold on just a second. Industry watchers see the tide beginning to turn in the tablet arena. Research company Ovum predicted that although Apple's market shares (90%) vastly outstripped Android (10%) last year, that will change.

Adam Leach from Ovum told The Guardian today that "Devices based on Google's platforms will only overtake those based on Apple's platform by 2015, when we forecast 36% and 35% market shares respectively of a total market with shipments of approximately 150m units in 2015," he said.

Meanwhile though, it's no secret that the uptake of the iPad among consumers and businesses has been nothing short of phenomenal: More than 15 million have been sold in nine months and whether to invest in an iPad app is something all entrepreneurs should consider

"How businesses take advantage of the platform and device capabilities will be shaped by their individual business needs. By taking the inherent qualities of the iPad 2 and the forthcoming OS 4.3 software update, there is a real opportunity in the market to build outstanding applications that challenge the way businesses operate," said Greg Taylor, design director at personal media company TigerSpike.

"An overall increase in specs, will accelerate the device's cut-through in the tablet market. The iPad 2 provides many exciting opportunities for businesses to cut operational costs and increase employee productivity - all through one slick and highly portable device," Greg said.

So, with a release date of March 25 and talk of a third iteration by Christmas, the inevitable question remains. Will you buy one?

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