iPad 2: An Essential Upgrade?

In his triumphant return, Steve Jobs announced the iPad 2 today. It was met by the normal fanfare of Apple products and enjoyed front page coverage on the New York Times’ website. Again, we are reminded that as much attention as Android products or the Kindle receives, Apple products are incomparable in their red carpet entrances.  James has very nicely laid out the elegant features of the iPad 2 that makes for a product harder, better, faster, stronger than its predecessor. A better song might proclaim instead “sleeker, lighter, faster but not cheaper.”

Should I Upgrade to the iPad 2?

Without a doubt, this is a superior product to the original iPad. It moves more quickly, and it has more bells and whistles—something essential for a product that is not exactly necessary for human survival. Without question, the dual cameras and faster processor will make for a better user experience; and for a device marketed so heavily on its aesthetic appeal, the slimmer and lighter fact is hard to ignore.

Undoubtedly, many who were on the fence about the iPad will be swayed to Apple’s well-illuminated stores to pick up the iPad 2.  How can one say no to an advice that is so well designed, so powerful, so portable, and so functional? Yet, two questions remain to be decided.

The first is whether Apple stores will be met with lines of sleep-eyed but well caffeinated denizens who are willing to brave the winter’s last triumphant stand on March 11th to be the first kid on the block with the new iPad. The second is whether individuals who already own an iPad will be willing to shell out in order to take part in the iPad 2. These two questions are inextricably linked. Anyone can tell that the new iPad is an improvement on its ancestor, but the question of its necessity is not entirely clear.

While I believe that its new features are indeed impressive, I’m not convinced that current iPad owners will deem it necessary to take another significant hit to their bank accounts for a new iPad. Apple may be banking on the number of individuals who relinquished old iPhones to wait at absurd hours to pick up iPhone 4s and hoping that the iPad 2 will be received similarly. Yet, the iPad is a much more significant economic investment (the cheapest iPhone and cheapest iPad are separated by $300). It seems easier to justify upgrading to a new iPhone but perhaps more difficult with the iPad.

Individuals take a longer (and less impulsive) time to update to a new Macbook than an iPhone, and I think that we might witness the same effect with the new iPad. For present iPad owners, considering that the iPad was released less than a year ago, I think that it might be wise to wait until the iPad 3 surfaces before considering an upgrade. But, as I stated above, I do believe that the iPad 2 will be a compelling argument for non-believers and will only aid in the iPad becoming as ubiquitous as the iPod and iPhone.

I will be as eager as everyone to test out the new iPad, and I worry that I will be convinced by its impressive design and capabilities and then feel that my iPad is outdated. But for the time being, I don’t mind the edges of Old Faithful. You might see me in the line for iPad 3, but most likely not on March 11th.