Nine months after launching iPad 1 to muted acclaim, a pale Steve Jobs has materialised on stage once again to beat the credibility out of his rivals with a successor, the iPad 2.

Since the original iPad, Apple’s rivals have busied themselves churning out second-rate equivalents, most of which look about as inviting as a $30 DVD player that’s accidentally had the wrong price tag attached to it. Did Samsung really think its OK Galaxy Tab was worth over £500?

(And digressing, who thought it was a good idea to make the caps lock on the very small keyboard that can be plugged into the Galaxy twice the size of the left-side shift key? There's a PC mindset for you.)

The real story of the tablet computer has become how one company has cleaned up while a multitude of rivals fail to make up their minds what these computers should be. That failure has its roots in a number of issues, starting with the fact that there is still no decent operating system rival to run on them.

Google has Honeycomb, but that’s barely where Apple was a year ago and won’t mature much for a while yet, by which time Apple will be on generation 3.

Everyone else has tinkered with the Android smartphone OS, and a small number of weird interests going nowhere such as BlackBerry's PlayBook and whatever HP might spin from WebOS.

Microsoft has Windows, of course, but that’s still a punchline looking for its joke preamble.

Another lurking issue is that many of the vendors making these tablets are clearly worried about cannibalising their own PC market, selling people tablets that eat sales they’d have made anyway by selling dearer laptops or netbooks.That might explain why generation one iPad rivals have been so expensive.

There is a huge failure of vision here. Jobs can strut on the iPad 2 launch stage safe in the knowledge that his product is still the best deal on offer and to hell with Flash video and the websites that  use it

Google’s more open Honeycomb development model will catch Apple at some point and no doubt Windows Phone 7 will jump out from the graveyard. But you can’t help feeling that the iPad 2 and its guaranteed success betrays the basic weakness of the tech world.

One or two creative companies sit astride a mass of risk-averse copycats piling up profitable crumbs in their wake with generic ‘who cares’ gadgets.