BY: Jonathan Poritsky

A jubilant hall full of nerds rose to its feet as Steve Jobs took the Yerba Buena Center stage in San Francisco this past Wednesday. The ailing CEO was on hand to emcee the introduction of Apple’s latest shiny object: the iPad 2. After lambasting the competition, he brought the tablet’s newest iteration out for the world to see. But for all the pomp, what really came out of the announcement?

The iPad 2 is, as widely predicted, a thinner and faster version of Cupertino’s original recipe, also adding front and rear-facing cameras for video chatting. To write these features off as mere iterative bumps is to miss the point: the best tablet on the market (yes I know the meaning of the word “best”) just got better. Why wouldn’t anyone buy one now?

Here’s the problem. The tech world is abuzz with rumours of an even newer iPad set to debut in September. Apple is better than perhaps any other company at keeping a secret, but over the years their stranglehold on information has waned. So when enough outlets with a decent track record are all chirping the same tune, you can be pretty sure that Apple will have something new to introduce come the fall. So is it a fool’s errand to buy an iPad 2 while this mystery device looms?

Here’s my take on the matter: something new will be released around the same time the new iPods sprout, but it probably won’t be an iPad 3. My guess is that it will be more substantial than an iPod Touch but not as full featured as an iPad. Why? Because Apple’s marketing team rarely lies in the near term. All of their promotional material declares “2011 will be the year of the iPad 2” and I’m inclined to agree with that motto.

Whatever comes in September will probably complement, not overshadow, the iPad 2. Because this is the year of the iPad 2, not the year of the 2 iPads. Apple said so, right?

One more important point. To show off the iPad 2’s processing and graphics chops, Apple introduced two new apps: iMovie and GarageBand for iPad. The former is a video editing app while the latter basically turns the iPad into an 8-track mobile music recorder. Both represent the most advanced touch user experiences on the market at any level, both look freaking awesome, and both are only available for the iPad 2. Not on the original iPad.

I bought my MacBook Pro in late 2006 and it still chugs along with my daily routine, which still includes some video, audio and web work. Almost any new application out there will install on it save for processor intensive games. This summer, when Apple releases their new Mac OS X Lion which requires slightly newer hardware than mine (by mere months), it will be the first time in five years that I won’t have been able to support the latest and greatest. But the iPad I bought not 12 months ago won’t be able to install the newest software come next Friday.

Technology marches on as it always has, yet in this new post-PC era it feels more like a sprint. I fear that one day we’ll have to buy a new device every year just to keep up. That being said, I didn’t compose this piece on my trusty (and pricey, in fact I could have bought one iPad every year I’ve owned it to come to the same bottom line) MacBook Pro from 2006. I wrote this on my technically outmoded iPad 1.0. Here’s to 2011.