Now we know what Apple wanted us to see. The teasing invite that dropped into email inboxes a week ago said: “We have something you really have to see. And touch.” Last night in San Francisco Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, put an end to the flurry of speculation about what his company had planned and showed off the new iPad. In truth, the rumours and speculation had got most of the details right. There was the improved display – 3.1 million pixels, which puts the iPad ahead of the average HDTV on screen resolution; a faster processor – quad-core for better graphics rendering; and an improved rear-facing camera with 5-megapixels and the same lens technology as the iPhone 4S. But as always, the specifications can only take you so far. What makes Apple’s products so successful is how they are to use. This isn’t the iPad 3 or the iPad HD, it’s just the new iPad. Its display offers such clarity that images appear to be painted on to the glass. As Apple says, you have to see it to appreciate the difference. That is a hallmark of the iPad, a device that is easy to dismiss until you use one. Apple emphasised the importance of apps to the success of the iPad. The rivals, Cook explained, either don’t have the apps or have only “blown-up smartphone apps”. To make the point, Apple demoed apps that show off the power of the new processor as well as the graphics. Whether its Epic Games’ Infinity Blade: Dungeons or Apple’s new iPhoto app, the screen looks fantastic and the apps zip along. Two questions kept arising last night as analysts and Apple fans followed the news coming out of San Francisco. First, is this enough of an improvement on last year’s model? The word from many observers after the announcement of the iPhone 4S in October last year was that the new features were a disappointment; analysts expected a radical redesign, 4G connectivity and, perhaps, a phone that makes your coffee. Is the new iPad a disappointment, analysts were asked time and again. Second, are the new features strong enough to make existing iPad owners upgrade? Apple’s pattern of refreshing existing products year on year is seen by critics as a cynical plan to keep the same people locked-in to a cycle of annual upgrades. Both questions miss the point. Apple has taken a market-leading, and one could even say market-defining, product and made it more compelling. Despite the fact that the iPad 2 was termed a disappointment by some because its specifications didn’t match the leading competitors, Apple has now sold 40 million iPads. The market share for the competition is growing but people still aren’t buying rival tablets in significant numbers. Forty million iPads is a lot but it still leaves a lot of people who don’t have one and they are the people that Apple is aiming at. For those people, the question is not whether the specs are enough of an improvement on last year or whether to upgrade. The question is whether to join the iPad revolution at all and every year Apple makes its case that little more compelling. Even before last night’s announcement, IMS Research was predicting that a new iPad would increase Apple’s share of the tablet market from 62 per cent in 2011 to 70 per cent in 2012. Based on the anticipated feature list for the new iPad, analyst Gerry Xu said : “To date there is no significant threat to the iPad’s continued dominance in the tablet market. In fact, the share of Android tablets is forecast to fall from 35 per cent in 2011 to 26 per cent in 2012.”As it happens, this year the company has also made a pretty compelling case for the upgrade. Gerry Xu expects a lot of owners of the original iPad to upgrade this year. While the iPad 2 might not have delivered enough features to merit the upgrade, the new model will convince them, he says. It’s notable that amid all the new feature announcements and app demos last night, Apple was keen to point to one thing that had stayed the same: battery life. The iPad is Apple’s flagshop “post-PC device” and it’s important that it can last for most of a day – or a long-haul flight – on a single charge. Speaking at a conference last month, Tim Cook said: “From the first day it shipped, we thought that the tablet market would become larger than the PC market and it was just a matter of the time it took for that to occur. I feel that stronger today than I did then.”If you believe Apple, then these are the early days of a new revolution in computing. While those who still want to build, program and tinker with PCs will be able to do so, tablets will be the computer for everyone else. Apple, Cook reminded attendees last night, is “just getting started”.On this showing, that’s bad news for the rivals.