Last night saw the launch of the second-generation iPad from Apple, the iPad 2. Here are my thoughts on what the launch means for consumers, businesses, brands and publishers.

For consumers

This leap forward in terms of device portability and software advancement essentially offers consumers more for less. The utility aspect of the iPad has increased tenfold, with web browsing becoming faster, games becoming more responsive, and social bandwidth increasing with FaceTime. Apps are set to become even more immersive with Apple’s new Duel-core A5 processor. It’s truly an exciting time for the personal media landscape.

For businesses

Bringing FaceTime to the iPad further extends Apple’s enterprise platform reach. This coupled with the HD mirroring capability, and an overall increase in specs, will accelerate the device’s cut-through in the tablet market. The iPad 2 provides many exciting opportunities for businesses to cut operational costs and increase employee productivity – all through one slick and highly portable device.

How businesses take advantage of the platform and device capabilities will be shaped by their individual business needs. By taking the inherent qualities of the iPad 2 and the forthcoming OS 4.3 software update, there is a real opportunity in the market to build outstanding applications that challenge the way businesses operate.

For brands & publishers

The advancements of the iPad 2’s overall capabilities further extend the ability for brands and publishers alike to create highly indulgent and immersive user experiences. The addition of the front and back facing cameras open up the opportunities for highly interactive modes of interaction such as ‘air gestures’ where the user can interact with the device without touch, and applications will now be able to map users movements to create an entirely new level of interaction and personalisation.

Moreover, it’s not just apps that will be getting a facelift. Web browsing on the device will increase due to the improvements in Safari. In turn, we’ll see more ‘tablet friendly’ websites using technologies such as HTML5. For brands and publishers that have not stepped into the iPad realm, 2011 will be the year they’ll be looking to the device with more people flocking to the tablet revolution and specification enhancements of the iPad 2 expanding the possibilities.