iPad 2 Hits Stores Tomorrow

The iPad 2 will be available “Friday at 5 p.m. local time at all 236 Apple retail stores in the US and through the Apple Store.” It will also be available from AT&T, Best Buy, Target, Verizon Wireless and Walmart stores.

The device has been very well, if not ecstatically reviewed. The consensus is that the combination of value pricing (with the entry level tablet at $499) and feature upgrades has cemented the iPad’s leadership position over a gaggle of competitors. To that end, iPad 2 also probably cut the legs out from under Motorola’s Xoom’s potential sales. Xoom is the recognized Android tablet leader so far. 

As with its smartphone OS, one can expect that the Android tablet OS will improve with time. 

There are two questions in my mind: how many new tablet buyers will enter the market to get iPad 2 and what will sales be of iPad’s competitors? Most of the competitors haven’t yet shown up. One market segment that is open to competition is the 7″ category (e.g., Galaxy Tab). RIM’s Playbook is 7″, which probably gives it a fighting chance in enterprises. 

The original iPad has sold 15 million units globally. I’m eager to get an iPad 2 despite the fact that I have an iPad. My wife will be upset if I do, but I may not be able to control myself. 

Kindle survives because it is now heavily discounted vs. its original pricing and it’s a well-built single purpose device. But pricing is the key factor; if it were priced at the original $359 it wouldn’t be selling. The larger and more expensive Kindle DX is effectively dead — although Amazon could always reinvent it at some point with a color screen and new features. 

Update: IDC just put out some data about 2010 tablet sales:

  • Nearly 18 million tablets “shipped” in 2010 (Apple sold 15 million per Apple)
  • Apple’s share was 83% (per IDC)
  • eReader shipments were more than 12 million
  • Western Europe and Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) regions accounted for 89% of all media tablet shipments in Q4; US is the largest market, but W. Europe and Asia (excluding Japan) are growing faster
  • IDC predicts 50 million unit sales (including eReaders like Kindle) in 2011