When Apple unveils the iPad 2 tomorrow, it's going to be a massive let-down.

Shares in the company will wobble. Android fans will do happy dances.

And all over the internet, people will write about how much of a disappointment it is, how Steve Jobs has lost his touch and how the Motorola Xoom / BlackBerry PlayBook / a piece of wood with a face drawn on it in biro is the new tablet king.

And they'll be right, to an extent.

Make no mistake, the iPad 2 we see tomorrow will be a disappointment. But it won't be a disappointment because it's a bad device, or because it doesn't take the iPad forward.

It will be a disappointment because it isn't the entirely imaginary device the internet has been happily inventing for the last few months.

Apple watchers have been playing a game of "my dad's bigger than your dad", with iPads instead of dads. "My iPad 2 will have a retina display!" "Well, my iPad 2 will have an eight-core processor!" "That's nothing! my iPad 2 will be made of carbon fibre and angel skin, and it will have an attachment that gets stones out of horses' hooves!"

Cars, TVs and toast

Other firms simply aren't held to the same standards. When Ferrari unveils a red sports car that's slightly better than last year's red sports car, everybody goes "hurray! It's a slightly better red sports car!" rather than complaining that it doesn't turn into a gigantic humanoid robot.

When Sony makes a new TV that's slightly better than other Sony TVs, everybody goes "hurray! It's a slightly better TV!" rather than whingeing that it doesn't make toast.

Tomorrow, Apple will unveil a tablet computer that's slightly better than last year's tablet computer. And because it doesn't match the specs of entirely imaginary bits of kit - kit that only exists in the form of wish lists, invented "leaks" or rivals' CG mock-ups - lots of people are going to slag it off.

It's a safe bet that the iPad 2 will be the iPhone 3GS to the iPad's iPhone 3G: better, sure, but evolutionary rather than revolutionary. And that's just fine, because the original was revolutionary enough - so revolutionary, in fact, that rivals are still struggling to work out what makes it work so well (here's a clue: it begins with "s" and ends with "oftware").

Apple isn't beyond criticism, and it certainly isn't perfect: anyone who's still waiting on a white iPhone 4 knows full well that not every Apple promise is delivered.

But the white iPhone 4 exists: we saw its shape, we saw its spec, and we were given a price; officially, the iPad 2 doesn't exist until it's shown off in San Francisco tomorrow. By all means slag Apple off if it breaks its promises, but let's wait for it to make some promises first.

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