iPad buzz reaches fevered pitch

It seems that Apple simply cannot put a foot wrong.

In the last few years, the industry has seen this technology trailblazer elevated to rock star status, leaving all others in its wake. Last year, the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference sold out in eight days. This year, there were no more tickets left eight hours after they went on sale.

Already they are being offered for double their face value on sites all over the Internet. It is an unprecedented situation, but then Apple prides itself on setting precedents and judging by the revolutionary products it has brought to the market, it has no intentions of slowing down.

A prime example of how Apple has changed the way the world operates and communicates is embodied in the iPad that Apple presented in early 2010. The buzz reached fever pitch as the official launch date approached and queues populated by eager fans circled blocks when it finally went on sale.

There was no denying that the iPad was a success in every way – diversely functional, beautiful, portable and extremely desirable. Not a company to sit on its laurels, Apple immediately began working on the next generation, the iPad 2, which hit the market on March 11th, 2011. Units have been flying out the door, proving Apple to be the market leader once again as competitors scramble to create imitators.

So what is the difference between the iPad and the iPad 2? Well as many suspected, this latest version now features an inbuilt camera – two in fact; one in front and one in back. The front camera is perfect for Skype and Face Time applications, and switching to the back camera allows you to take snapshots and video in HD. The iPad 2 adapter that provides HDMI output has proven to be very popular, particularly with teachers, who can now duplicate exactly what is seen on the screen in large, crystal clear colour. The new Dual-core A5 chip means faster processing and as light and thin as the original iPad was, this iPad 2 is 33 per cent thinner and 15 per cent lighter without reducing the 9.7” screen size. Any seasoned traveller knows that reduction in bulk means more comfort and mobility. Another exciting addition is the Smart Cover accessory in multiple colours and textures, designed specifically for the iPad 2.

It magnetically attaches to the “spine” and protects the screen without adding unnecessary weight or thickness. When closed over the screen the iPad 2 automatically goes to sleep and when opened, it wakes instantly. It is the perfect complement to the perfect computer. Ah yes, and the iPad 2 now comes in white as well as black – just another addition to the long list of good reasons to buy.

The iPad’s popularity with consumers is unquestionable – with thousands of apps, music and videos to be downloaded through iTunes, not to mention its on-board features, a person could spend years exploring its possibilities and still not reach the end. But it is also making a huge impact in the business world. Papers, pens and laptop computers are now being replaced in the boardroom by the iPad. Its versatility makes it an excellent choice for the businessman, particularly one constantly on the go.

The iPad has a large enterprise customer base, which is growing exponentially. It facilitates the interaction of businesses and clients, allowing for the display of products without having to bring physical samples or transport bulky brochures. It supports video and can grab data in real time, making it better than any glossy sales catalogue – a no-brainer for BMW when it chose to use iPads instead of the typical static panels at the South Florida International Auto Show in Miami. Potential customers enjoyed a much more interactive experience, able to browse models and statistics with a swipe of their finger. Restaurants are beginning to substitute iPads for the traditional printed menus, such as the newest high-end restaurant on the Celebrity Eclipse – Qsine – where customers can choose and save their preferences after reviewing the dishes in HD onscreen and even email favourite drink recipes from their iPad to their personal address. Daily specials can be changed in minutes by the chef, which then updates all the iPad menus automatically.

Network World estimates that 80 per cent of the Fortune 100 companies are presently deploying or have pilots running with the iPad. Well-known fans are listed such as Dupont, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Company IT managers like the increased security available and application level encryption, and being able to remotely wipe the device is another plus.

The front-facing camera now standard with iPad 2 can be used for entry-level video teleconferencing, and mail, calendar, notes and safari are featured as integral apps. You can review and edit common office documents such as Microsoft Office and iWork files, as well as create presentations from scratch, craft complex spreadsheets, annotate PDFs and access important files on your corporate network. Graphs and data are at your fingertips and you can stay in constant contact with the office while you’re on the road. In the IT field? You can view the status of your IT infrastructure, access office computers and mobile devices and even troubleshoot and solve IT issues.

It seems that the iPad has gone well beyond what critics might have originally considered to be purely a home consumer product as it firmly makes its way into the corporate world. Competitors are running a distant second, and although some had announced that creating tablet computers would be made their priority in the past year, the industry has yet to see anything that can truly hold a candle to the iPad. Demand is only increasing, new apps are being created on a daily basis that will consistently enhance the experience of owning and using an iPad and the world waits with bated breath to see what Steve Jobs next has up his sleeve.