A thin but energetic Steve Jobs made a surprise return to the spotlight on Wednesday, taking the stage to unveil Apple Inc’s new iPad.The Silicon Valley legend has been out on medical leave since late January and his reappearance bolstered Apple shares and reassured investors and fans.
“We’ve been working on this product for a while and I just didn’t want to miss today,” Jobs said.
Defying speculation that he was seriously ailing, Jobs took swipes at rivals and mocked competing tablet computers — Samsung, Research In Motion, HP, Dell and Motorola.
Like Jobs, the $499 device is thinner — “actually thinner than your iPhone 4,” as Jobs said. The new iPad also has a new case, a "smart cover", that magnetically attaches to the front of the iPad to create a screen protector. It automatically puts the machine into sleep mode when it is attached.
It is twice as fast as the last tablet, camera-equipped, and ships March 11 in the US and March 25 in 26 more countries. The surprisingly fast roll-out highlights the fierce competition in the tablet market.
“Steve Jobs is the most important asset for Apple without a doubt and that’s why investors are so curious about whether he will remain and continue to have an impact,” said Robert Lutts, chief investment officer at Cabot Money Management.
“The stock went up after his appearance but not as much as it normally would if Apple had a fully healthy CEO.”