Informal iPad 2 Public Awareness Study: An Hour at Starbucks with my iPad 2

Apple’s iPad is nearly a year old. The 5 day old iPad 2 (as of yesterday) does not look significantly different from its predecessor based on a casual glance. And, yet four total (but polite) strangers came up to me in a Starbucks yesterday in the one hour period I sat there while waiting for an old friend to arrive and while we were actually at a table conversing. In the 11 months since the iPad’s release, out of the blue questions from strangers had dwindled down to nothing despite the fact that I carry my iPad around and use it in public quite frequently. The iPad’s huge sales and regular use by the general public probably had something to do with that. It simply was not a novelty to see in use by early 2011.
The interesting thing is that unlike my old friend (seen in the photo to the left checking out my iPad 2), none of the people who approached me seemed like gadget fans. And yet, all of them asked if my iPad was “the new one” and asked very good questions about it. One woman has a son who wants an iPad 2 and a fellow asked questions to help him convince his wife to let him upgrade from the original iPad.
Apple’s iPad 2 mindshare and general public awareness is amazing to witness “in the wild.” This is not the usual sort of gadget awareness I’ve seen over the years.
I should also note that I saw two other people with iPads (not sure which models) while in this particular Starbucks in the suburbs. They both were using their iPad with an Apple Wireless Keyboard.