A Steve Jobs iPad 2 surprise: You need some FaceTime
Just when you thought Apple CEO Steve Jobs had spearheaded his last new product launch, the myth, the man, the legend that is Jobs made you do a hard reboot.
In a Beatles-infused flurry of laptops (not tablets) as far as the eye could see, a radiant, turtlenecked skeleton of the Jobs the technorati have come to know and love surprised the crowd by taking the stage at the iPad 2 announcement event Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco.
Noticeably gaunt yet beaming, Jobs was greeted with thunderous applause, a standing ovation and pointed foreshadowing set to the tune of "Here Comes the Sun."
Not only did Jobs show his (much skinnier) face, but he kicked off the event as only Jobs can — by tooting his own horn.
"2010 was the year of the iPad," Jobs triumphantly declared. "We sold nearly 15 million iPads in 2010. That's more than any tablet PC ever sold."
"It also generated a little over $9.5 billion in revenue for Apple in 2010," Jobs continued. "We've never had a product that started off like that. It has over 90 percent market share, and our competitors are just flummoxed."
But trademark puffery is only one core element of these Apple affairs. Because in all seriousness, you can only use "revolutionary," "magic" and "game changer" so many times.
The real meat and potatoes of this cyber Shangri-La was to unveil Iteration No. 2 of Apple's most famous "post-PC device" — the iPad 2.
If we told you that Apple didn't quicken our pulse for about 60 minutes straight this afternoon, we'd be feeding you lines of bad code.
The iPad 2 is almost an exact replica of the iPhone 4 (which we conveniently already own).
And yet, we want it anyway.
Because, Steve Jobs, when you woo us with words like "33 percent thinner and lighter," how can we not swoon?
And when you tell us it will be available in both black and white — and both will be available from day one! — how can we not faint a little?
We can't help that, with dual-core processors and a new A5 chip, our knees get weak. That's because the iPad 2 will run two times faster than the original with nine — yes, nine! — times faster graphics capabilities than its predecessor.
But it'll need all that extra speed, if it's going to handle rear and front-facing video cameras for FaceTime-ing with any FaceTime-ready device.
Yes, that's correct. FaceTime from your iPad to another iPad, or from your iPad to another iPhone. For real.
Are you still standing?
Don't worry. Not everything is changing.
The price will stay the same ($499 for 16GB Wi-Fi, $629 for 16GB 3G and Wi-Fi, with models also available in 32GB and 64GB), and the new iPad will retain the stellar 10-hour battery life.
But sadly, no ports or card slots have been added to the mix, either. Were you holding your breath for an SD slot or a FireWire port? Silly, rabbit. Those tricks are for computers.
We really hate to be overly generous with the praise, but this time, it seems, Apple's covered (almost) all the bases.
There's even a slap bracelet-like contraption — aptly dubbed the Smart Cover — that'll cover and clean the screen, prop it up for easy viewing and auto-wake and auto-sleep the iPad.
Did we mention the iPad will finally be privy to iMovie and GarageBand, which will rival your use of these programs on your main computing device?
Oh, and not to neglect the iPhone 4 set, how about that you'll finally be able to use your iPhone 4 as a personal hotspot? Yes, yes, yes!
Ugh. We're even blinding ourselves with the new product glow.
We'd like to be more critical. We really would. But perhaps, for now, we'll let Jobs and Co. bask in this one.
To put the cherry on top of its monumental day, Apple also thought you'd want to make all the SXSW Interactive conference attendees jealous, too. That's why the iPad 2 (along with the cornucopia of gadgetry mentioned) will be available on March 11 — the first day of the conference, ahem.
Oh yes, it's happening that fast.
Poor Apple retailers in Austin. We certainly hope they're ready for the influx of uber-geekdom on March 11.