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Saturday, April 02, 2011, 09:00 pm PT (12:00 am ET)

Apple steps up iPad 2 campaign to push functionality over hardware specifications

Apple has started airing a new spot promoting iPad 2 as a collection of "delightful, even magical" integrated functions rather than just a device with various hardware specifications.

The new ad continues the series of iPad commercials that have focused on its capabilities, with little if any mention of its hardware specifications. However, the new ad strikes a new sentimental tone portraying the device as being natural and intuitive to the point where the underlying technology vanishes.

"This is what we believe," the new spot says. "Technology alone is not enough. Faster, thinner, lighter; those are all good things. But when technology gets out of the way, everything becomes more delightful, even magical. That's when you leap forward. That's when you end up with something like this," fading to "iPad 2" in titles.

Apple coyly refused to address some technical specifications of iPad 2 at its release (including the amount of system RAM), focusing instead upon its features, including two new first party apps, iMovie and Garage Band, that take full advantage of iPad hardware without any discussion of what it is they are taking advantage of.

Apple prefers to focus on the functionality of iPad and its other unique features (including the hard to duplicate library of 65,000 iPad-optimized titles in the App Store, integration with iTunes, and its iBooks Store) because these are all aspects that competitors will be unable to match in the next few years.

Competitors, including RIM's forthcoming Playbook, Android licensees' new 3.0 Honeycomb tablets, and HP's new TouchPad will have less trouble matching or even exceeding the technical specifications of iPad 2.

Samsung recently announced that its newest batch of Galaxy Tab devices would be slightly thinner and lighter than the iPad (although critics complained that even the non-functional prototypes aren't actually thinner), while Motorola advertised its Xoom tablet as having twice as much RAM (although that extra RAM doesn't appear to make it faster at browsing or most other tasks, and doesn't make up for Android 3.0's 20-something apps compared to iPad's more than 65,000).

By working hard to keep a focus on functionality and user experience rather than just hardware specifications, physical dimensions and pricing, Apple makes its tightly "curated" integration a key differentiation, the same aspect the company pushed in its Get a Mac campaign that contrasted a positive, simple Mac experience to the frustrating, troublesome problems PC users face.

Apple largely lost that message in the 90s when it allowed third party PC makers to equate their product experience to Macs while focusing on CPU speed, RAM, disk storage, and price, the same thing Android and Windows Mobile licensees are promoting today among mobile devices.

Apple's new spot appears on YouTube and is embedded below.