iPad 3 Could Debut On March 29th: Rumor

iPad 3 BackA scheduled Apple event and plenty of actionable intelligence about production ramping up gives us a good sense that the iPad 3 could debut at the end of March.

Thus far, few prognosticators have had much luck in predicting the debut of new Apple devices. But there are enough ingredients in the iPad 3 rumor mill to suggest that March 29th could be the big day that Apple releases its third generation tablet. According to Focus Taiwan, “Apple Inc. will hold a media event next month and is scheduled to release its new generation tablet device — the iPad 3 — on March 29, according to local media reports.” The article goes on to explain that “Citing market sources, the reports said local electronics makers in the iPad 3 supply chain has been delivering various high-end components since the last quarter of 2011 and that the tablet is likely to hit the market.”

The piece also mentions that there is a great deal of activity in the Asian stock markets, with investors buying up components manufacturers’ stock, ostensibly in anticipation for the imminent release of the iPad 3.

For as much as there are now reports of production activity for the iPad 3 — stretching back into 2011 (a very good sign that the iPad 3′s release is close at hand) — we still know very little about what the third generation will bring. It was rumored all last year that Apple would reveal the iPad 3, iPad 2 Plus, or some sort of “mini iPad” along with the iPhone 5 in the Fall of 2011. None of these rumors came to pass, of course (including the iPhone 5).

Mini iPad 3Talk of a smaller-screened iPad crept back into the rumor mill after the release of the iPhone 4S, but those rumors have trended down over the past months, as the tech media has settled on the fact that Apple may willing to cede the lower-priced, smaller-screened tablet devices like the Kindle, Nook, and mega smartphone Samsung Galaxy Note to Android and others. In fact, one of the most steadfast rumors concerning the iPad 3′s display is that it could feature an added LED bar in order to greatly improve the pixel density. Gizmodo reports: “There have been numerous unsourced reports from the supply chain stating that retina screens are coming to iPad. More officially, iBooks 2 has 2x resolution images that would make a lot of sense for a super resolution iPad.” This in turn could actually increase the thickness of the device, rather than moving in a thinner direction for the form factor, as rumored for the iPhone 5.

While some may lament a thicker iPad 3, the juxtaposition of a thicker iPad 3 and thinner iPhone 5 would allow Apple to continue to keep their two flagship mobile devices far apart enough in design to encourage its customers to invest in both, so as to be fully vested in Apple’s ecosphere. And even though the dimensions might thicken a bit, the prevailing belief is that the overall look of the iPad 3 will not change from the previous iPad iterations.

Other rumored iPad 3 upgrades may include an HD camera sensor for its front-facing camera, suggesting that Apple wants to increase the usability of the iPad for a more impressive FaceTime experience, and the possibility that Siri could make its way onto the iPad 3 as well. Some analysts feel that Siri’s application is less suited for the iPad and larger computing devices — that it is really tailor-made for the iPhone — while others believe that Apple will look to implement Siri-like voice command and control across the full spectrum of their devices, and move towards more voice control and less gesture/keyboard control.

In other hardware notes, the A6 processor, while rumored to be in the works, is not expected to make its way onto the iPad 3, with most analysts believing that Apple will hold it for use in the iPhone 5.

Finally, the issue of bringing 4G LTE to the iPad 3 is perhaps the most interesting consideration. Gizmodo seems to frame the issue perfectly: “Bringing LTE to the iPad before the iPhone would make sense, because the iPad’s larger battery can handle the 4G drain. Then again, a 4G iPad would almost certainly portend a 4G iPhone this summer, and it’s not at all clear that Apple considers the network mature enough to hop on just yet.” While I think that the LTE infrastructure in the U.S. could most certainly handle an LTE iPad 3 this Spring, I do agree that giving the iPad 3 4G LTE connectivity would essentially let the cat out of the bag about the iPhone 5 being 4G as well. From a marketing perspective, it might be worth it to Cupertino to hold off on 4G for the iPad 3, just so the iPhone 5 can make a big splash in June or beyond.

By Michael Nace



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