Jobs Takes Stage at Apple Event –

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs, who took a leave of absence earlier this year citing medical reasons, took the stage Wednesday at a product event in San Francisco.

[0302jobs] Geoffrey A. Fowler/The Wall Street Journal

Steve Jobs

Mr. Jobs’s surprise appearance was greeted by a standing ovation. “We’ve been working on this product for awhile, and I didn’t want to miss it,” he told the audience.

The Cupertino, Calif., consumer electronics maker unveiled a second-generation iPad. Mr. Jobs said the iPad 2 has a dual-core microprocessor and new design.

Apple’s new iPad would be hitting the market at a time when a slew of other manufacturers have announced plans to launch similar products this year. As competition intensifies in the growing tablet space, analysts and companies are also concerned about a looming price war.

In January, Apple said Mr. Jobs is taking a medical leave of absence and that Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook would take over day-to-day operations. Mr. Jobs, 55 years old, has battled pancreatic cancer and had a liver transplant in 2009.

UPDATE: The next-generation iPad will come in white as well as black. The new device will ship on March 11, a week from Friday. It will ship in the U.S. first, and two weeks after that will ship in 26 other countries. “This thing is going to be everywhere in the month of March,” Mr. Jobs said.

Good news!