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iPad 2 Reviews Reveal How iPad 1 Blew the Curve

With the arrival of a huge number of reviews of the iPad 2, can we learn what’s Apple’s biggest challenge in selling the new wondertablet? Yup: The original one.

iPad 2 Reviews Reveal How iPad 1 Blew the Curve
iPad 2 review wordcloud

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Apple‘s new iPad is here! In all 236 Apple retail stores in the U.S. and a host of other venues, starting tomorrow, March 11th, at 5 p.m. local time. Timed to coincide with the news, Apple’s press embargo has lifted, revealing a long list of extensive reviews from people who’ve had an extended period to play with the new tablet. We didn’t. But we did use some of these reviews to produce the wordcloud you can see above to work out what the reviewers thought about the new device.

On the whole the reviewers (David Pogue in the New York Times, The Daily’s Peter Ha, Walt Mossburg, MacWorld’s Jason Snell, Engadget’s Josh Topolsky and Daring Fireball’s John Gruber) were positive. But the take-away word from this wordcloud is obvious: Original.

These guy’s aren’t talking about the iPad 2’s uniqueness, they’re talking about the original iPad.

Forget about the fact everyone loved the huge reduction in size and thickness, the slight dip in weight, the significantly faster UI and graphics performance, the fact its better to hold in your hands and yet has the same battery life as before. Ignore the fact reviewers were saddened that the screen resolution hadn’t been bumped up from 1024 by 768 pixels to something far more retina-challenging. Skip over the neat new peripheral that lets the iPad drive your HDTV with 720p mirrored video content, and discard worries that the twin cameras on the device are judged to be good for video but not so hot for still imagery: The iPad 2 is all about the iPad 1.

The first iPad is both the key strength and big weakness of the new version. It’s a strength because it changed the portable computing paradigm possibly forever, it sold by the million, it confounded Apple’s peers to the extent they’re only now surfacing with products that can compete with the original, and it brought Apple’s brand to many millions more consumer’s attention.

Yet it’s a weakness because where could Apple go from there? The iPad 2 is a big incremental improvement on the iPad, but the changes really are incremental–not revolutionary. They didn’t really have to be, since the iPad 1 was so incredibly successful, and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But consumers will know the iPad’s been on sale for a year. They’ll see the wave of other tablets following in the iPad 1’s wake, pushed with glitzy press campaigns describing higher specs, and wonder if a better tablet hasn’t arrived from, say, Motorola.

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This is the tenor of most of the reviews. The iPad 2 is excellent, with a few grudging weak spots, but if you’re one of the tens of millions of people who bought the original, it may not be for you. This is unlikely to bother Apple, of course, which can look forward to selling millions more devices to Apple fans who were impressed by the first edition yet waited ’til now, and to the millions of other folk who will simply want to hop aboard the tablet computing bus. All Apple has to do is persuade people that the new iPad 2 is better than the original and thus is better enough to beat the numerous Android tablets also hitting the scene. It has to persuade them, in effect, that the future of the tablet is here, and it is still the iPad devices.

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Word cloud by Wordle.

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About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)

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