Price Could Be the Next iPad Event's Biggest Surprise
A recent report has narrowed down Apple's introduction of the next iPad to the first week in March. Sales will allegedly commence two weeks later. By now, much speculation has already been directed at the next-generation tablet -- it's expected to feature anything from a larger battery to a higher-definition screen. However, price may be the area in which Apple has a trick up its sleeve.
02/10/12 5:00 AM PT
When Apple will pull the wraps off the iPad 3 has been a subject of speculation for months, but the latest prediction -- that it will be introduced during the first week in March -- appears to be gaining street cred fast.
The prediction was made Thursday morning at The Wall Street Journal's AllThingsD website. Citing unnamed sources, John Paczkowski reported an Apple event will take place the first week in March -- which only has two business days in it -- and probably be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
Units will likely be available two weeks after the announcement, the report added.
Apple did not respond to our request for comment on this story.
The date for the launch of the iPad 3 is one of the last things to be nailed down with some certainty about the tablet. While no one knows for sure what the final iPad 3 will look like, Apple watchers have settled on what should be in the unit.
For example, it's widely believed that iPad 3 will have a new super-sharp Retina display with a resolution of 2,048 by 1,536 pixels. That appears to be confirmed in a recent photo purported to be the back of the iPad 3 obtained from sources in China by Repair Phones at Fix-iPhones.com.
"The LCD panel is definitely going to be different," Taylor Huddleston, a senior technician with Repair Phones told MacNewsWorld. "The mounts to the LCD panel are different."
The dimensions for the length and width of the device will remain the same, he noted, and while some Apple watchers have speculated that the new unit will be thicker to accommodate a bigger battery, Huddleston said that couldn't be determined from photo he looked at.
"We can tell it will have a bigger battery, which means the logic board is going to be smaller," he added.
4G Makes Things Interesting
A less certain area for speculators has been the processor for the new device. However, it's hard to imagine the tablet would have anything less than a quad-core processor, especially since competing devices have started appearing in the market with very muscular chips in them.
Another foggy area for iPad ponderers has been 4G connectivity. More than a few iPhone enthusiasts were disappointed that LTE, a 4G technology supported by Verizon and others, was absent from the iPhone 4's introduced last fall.
At that time, the existing LTE chipsets consumed too much power for Apple's liking. Since then, Qualcomm has reduced the size and power requirements for the technology, which has led some to believe that LTE will be in the new iPad.
"If you put a 4G wireless modem in the iPad, it could be very interesting," Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, told MacNewsWorld. "It would give the iPad two wireless, high-speed connections."
What to Do With iPad 2
Aside from hardware improvements expected to be evolutionary at best, pricing could be one of the more interesting revelations coming out of an iPad 3 launch, especially if Apple decides to continue selling the iPad 2, according to NPD Group Analyst Stephen Baker.
"Most analysts expect that Apple will keep the iPad 2 in the market at a lower price," he told MacNewsWorld.
"There's demand at the price points below (US)$500, which is what Apple is selling the iPad for now," he continued. "Apple is nothing if not aggressive to extend their product line when they think the time is right."
If Apple kept the iPad 2 alive and started selling it at a lower price, it would surprise Bajarin. "We have seen no indication of that," he said.
Nevertheless, Apple's success at keeping the iPhone 4 alive while introducing the new 4S may be a temptation to repeat the tactic for the iPad. "It's a marvel to me that Apple's able to sell old products, as it did with the 3GS and 4, and gain market share," Gartner Vice President for Mobile Computing Ken Dulaney told MacNewsWorld.