Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance at this morning's iPad 2 unveiling, bringing event attendees to their feet for a standing ovation. It was Jobs' first appearance at an Apple event since announcing his third medical leave from the company, and an unexpected one at that.
The week prior, Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who Jobs had put in charge of running Apple's day-to-day operations in his absence, had presided over the company's annual shareholders meeting, leading many to believe that Jobs would also be sitting this morning's event out.
Jobs appeared at ease with the crowd, soaking up the warm reception when first entering the stage, as well as commanding the role of master of ceremonies for the hour and 15-minute presentation. "We've been working on this product for a while, and I didn't want to miss today," he said.
Even with the surprise cameo though, Jobs made it clear the day was not about him, it was about Apple and its products. After going over some of the company's recent successes with sales in the company's iBooks platform, Jobs detailed how the company had amassed more than 200 million accounts in its online stores, as well as paying out $2 billion to developers since the launch of the App Store.
When it came time to introduce the iPad 2, Jobs went out of his way to make the point that competitors were still trailing in the market, calling out Samsung specifically with its efforts of the Galaxy Tab. This culminated in a bullet point on Apple's slide deck boasting that the company had more than 90 percent market share of the tablet market.
This was later brought up again with Jobs saying that competitors like Google were making some of the same mistakes in the tablet market that had been made in the PC industry, with a focus on specifications rather than on end-user experience.
"Our competitors are looking at this like it's the next PC market. That is not the right approach to this," Jobs said. "These are post-PC devices that need to be easier to use than a PC, more intuitive. The hardware and software need to intertwine more than they do on a PC. We think we're on the right path with this."
That approach had brought the company iPad sales in excess of 15 million units since its introduction early last year, Jobs said.
Following the introduction of the device, Jobs passed on the torch to a number of the company's product managers to go walk the crowd through demos of new software and iOS features that would be making their way to iPads and iPhones later this month as part of a system software update. On several occasions, his reaction when coming on stage was that of a beaming parent, happy with the work, and to show it off to others.
Jobs closed out the event by saying that technology alone was not good enough. "It's technology married with liberal arts, humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing. And nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices," he said.