So one of the cable TV news networks interrupts the broadcast one morning this week with a musical stinger meant to signify a major news story. The story? Well, it seems that Apple plans to hold a media event in early March (perhaps Thursday, March 1st) to launch the iPad 3. This is a world-changing event?
While I'm as curious about the next iPad as anyone, I prefer to think there are far more important stories to cover. At best, this report, sourced from AllThingsDigital, confirms pretty much what everyone expected about the next iPad. ATD earns credibility because it's owned by the same company who publishes the Wall Street Journal, and Walt Mossberg, an Apple-favored journalist, hangs his hat there. Therefore, even though the article quotes unnamed sources, you have to take it seriously. After all, when the next iPad shows up, Mossberg will post his review the day it ships. He may even have it now.
The rest of the piece pretty much repeats what we've all heard, that it will sport a high resolution, or 2048×1536 pixel display. This will deliver the iPad equivalent of a Retina Display. No doubt there will be much snappier graphics and a far more powerful processor, one that some have dubbed the Apple A6.
Now some rumors suggest this is going to be a quad-core processor, while other stories say it'll be fast, but still double core. Regardless, nobody is going to complain about performance, even gamers.
In the run up to the release of the supposed iPad 3, there are even some published reports about an alleged rear casing that was discovered and evidently photographed, if you can believe it's genuine. The internals indicate a different mounting for the display and space for a larger battery. So if the new processor and LCD panels require heftier amounts of power, the battery will be able to accommodate those needs yet still deliver battery life of at least ten hours on a Wi-Fi connection.
To nobody's surprise, Apple refuses to comment on the story. As you know, they never comment on unreleased products unless, of course, they feel that such an announcement fits in their marketing plans. That may be true for a first generation product, where there are no sales of a previous model to kill, other than those from competitors of course. So this would mean that the iPad 3 will go on sale within days of the media launch.
Now the remaining possibilities for the iPad 3 don't seem to significant in the scheme of things. Perhaps there will be higher resolution cameras, and a better mic. I'd like to see stereo speakers, since it seems strange that the current iPad is saddled with mono. Some folks even suggest Apple will drop an LTE chip in the 3G version (thus making it 4G), so you can take full advantage of the fastest cellular networks on the planet. Indeed, that might explain the need for a larger battery, to accommodate the greater power needs of current LTE hardware.
Sure, it's possible Apple will toss in some surprises. Perhaps the expected iOS 5.1 release will deliver Siri support for the iPad. But the larger question is whether Apple will follow their iPhone marketing strategy and keep the present iPad 2 in the lineup at a lower price. If that's the case, the iPad 3 will cost essentially the same as the current model, but the older version will be available for $349 or $399 for the entry-level configuration.
Certainly a cheaper iPad will be a good way to fend off possible competition from Amazon and other cheap tablet builders. But, no, don't expect a 7-inch model. Steve Jobs would be rolling in his grave if Apple did that, after he was so emphatic in saying that the smaller form factor isn't suited for a tablet. While I don't have much experience working with the Amazon Kindle Fire, the best-selling 7-inch tablet, I can tell you that I felt seriously constrained navigating through the small screen, not to mention coping with the erratic sensitivity to finger movements. Well, maybe Amazon fixed some of the touchscreen issues in a software update that arrived a few weeks after the Fire went on sale.
Now since so much of what might be delivered in an iPad 3 is already out there, I have to wonder whether some members of the media will declare the new version inadequate. You heard that when the iPhone 4 looked the same as the iPhone 4s, and it does seem that the next iPad will look very much like its predecessor, although it would be nice to see if Apple can give it a diet and shave a few more ounce from the weight.
It's not that 1.33 ounces (1.34 for the 3G version) is necessarily heavy. But it's not all that convenient for one handed use, as most of you know.
Unless Apple springs some unexpected surprise, I suppose the big question is whether owners of older iPads will want to upgrade. And, yes, I have little doubt it will be backordered for several weeks after going on sale. How could it be otherwise?
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