Apple chief executive Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance in San Francisco on Wednesday to unveil a new version of the iPad that is thinner, lighter and features video cameras.
"We've been working on this product quite awhile and I just didn't want to miss a great day," said Jobs, who appeared gaunt, but energetic and was dressed in his trademark black turtleneck and blue jeans.
Jobs, who went on medical leave in January this year for an unspecified illness, said the new iPad 2 features front and rear facing video cameras to enable video chat and is thinner than the previous version.
"The new iPad 2 is actually thinner than your iPhone 4," said Jobs. "It is dramatically thinner, not a little thinner, a third thinner."
It weighs 1.3 pounds, down from 1.5 pounds, and will come in black and white models.
Jobs said the iPad 2 will sell for the same $499-$829 price as the previous model. It will ship in the United States on March 11 this year and on March 25 in 26 other countries including France, Germany and Japan.
Jobs said the iPad 2 is "dramatically faster" due to a new A5 chip. "The graphics in this thing are wonderful," he said.
"2010 turned out to be the year of the iPad," Jobs said. "We sold almost 15 million iPads in 2010 from April to December," Jobs said.
"It generated a little shy of 10 billion dollars in revenue for Apple." "We've never had a product that got off to that fast a start," he said.
"We have 90% of the market. Our competitors were just flummoxed," he said.
"They went back to their drawing boards, tore up their designs."
Jobs, 56, went on indefinite medical leave on January 17, turning over day to day operations at Apple to chief operating officer Tim Cook. Jobs underwent an operation for pancreatic cancer in 2004 and received a liver transplant in early 2009.
Jobs also announced that major publisher Random House would be making electronic books available for Apple's iBook store.