Apple invents iPad 2.0 while iPad 1 invades China

Apple's iPad landed in China this morning. And in the usual way, Apple Store staff cheered and high-fived shoppers as they entered the stores, queues formed overnight and sales seemed brisk. Meanwhile the results are in -- iPad isn't just killing the netbook market, it's grabbing half of the PC laptop market, too, at least according to Best Buy. And Apple is already assembling components for the iPad 2, set to debut early next year.

In Beijing, 100 people braved the rain to be at the Apple Store when it opened, including one man who had queued for two days to buy one.

[This story is from Computerworld's Apple Holic blog. Follow on Twitter or subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat.]

(Apple is currently only selling WiFi-enabled iPads in China, 3G models will follow at a later -- unannounced -- juncture.)

The Wall Street Journal has helpfully published a video capturing Chinese consumers and their impressions of Apple as a company.

I'm particularly taken by a statement from an analyst at China Market Research Group, who notes the iPad to be a "major win" for Apple in China. Consumers there "can't wait for it", he said.

Too true.

In one case this morning one Chinese man hired 13 people to buy 58 iPads for him, which he said he had acquired as gifts for his clients.

My own estimates suggest Apple's currently selling an iPad every second of every minute of every day, based on the current manufacture rate of three million per month.

Perhaps its no wonder then that Best Buy CEO Brian Dun says the iPad has cannibalized sales of PC laptops by as much as 50 per cent.

“People are willing to disproportionately spend for these devices because they are becoming so important to their lives,” Dunn  said.

PCs may be hit, but Mac seem immune.

David Doyle, Simply Computing's vice president told CRN News. "A lot of the people buying the iPad are first-time Mac users. I haven't seen a drop in MacBook sales and I don't see them ever replacing MacBooks."

Later today we should learn how the product's launch went in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

November will see the introduction of iOS 4.2 for the iPad.

This will offer existing users great new features such as the capacity to stream music through to AirPlay-enabled home entertainment equipment, AirPrint, which will let you easily print from your iPad; a unified in-box and many other features -- some of which I noted in my recent critical review of the device.

You'll also see multi-tasking, GameCenter support and much much more.

In other words, the iPad will take another few steps toward becoming a laptop replacement, presumably impacting PC notebook sales even more.

And as Fortune this morning informs: Notebook sales are in a downward spiral since the launch of the iPad, indeed, growth just hit negative according to Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty, who correctly predicted the iPad would eat the netbook market.

Huberty this morning also notes: "The netbook market is getting absolutely crushed by the introduction of the iPad."

Technology Business Research analyst, Ezra Gottheil, notes "Tablets will displace sales of consumers' secondary laptop PCs, while their primary PC will continue to maintain its role for tasks such as document creation, storing files and editing photographs."

This will change as developers invent more effective file management, document creation and image manipulation apps for iOS devices.

"The tablet device will rapidly establish itself as a powerful information consumption device in both the consumer and business markets," said TBR President Jon Lindy. "All those in the computing ecosystem must keep the tablet in mind when putting together their strategies for 2011 and beyond."

The PC is going the way of the truck. Where did we hear that before?

Apple isn't resting on its laurels. The company has already begun sourcing parts for the next-generation of iPad.

Component manufacturers are currently submitting requested parts to Apple, which is validating them for use in iPad 2.New ultra-thin glass-based touch panels are among the components Apple is examining.

The new device seems set to ship in the early part of 2011, according to reports.

What do we know about the next-gen iPad?

It is easy to anticipate it will offer a video camera and FaceTime support.

I can imagine it may possess more advanced handwriting recognition -- any would be nice. This is a feature which must be on the list, if only for digital signatures.

It will likely host higher storage sizes, a more high-res screen (Retina Display?) and a faster processor. Don't be surprised if Apple figures out a reading mode to make the iPad easier to read in bright light. (Amazon will regret its TV ad).

The iPad that is to come next year may even be manufactured using new alloys Apple has licensed from Liquidmetal. These are harder than titanium but can be molded like plastic. They are also less brittle than metal.

Given Apple is said to be testing ultra-thin glass-based touch panels, it is hard not to imagine the next-gen iPad will be even thinner than the existing model.

The liquidmetal alloys are also lighter, which implies the next iPad will be more comfortable to hold for extended periods of reading (its existing weight, 1.5 pounds gets to you eventually).

Signing off, here's a rather interesting video showing use of an iPad in a really rather cool lightpainting animation. Enjoy your weekend.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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