From the files of News to Make iPad 2 Owners Cringe, Digitimes is reporting that Apple has placed orders for iPad 3 parts, which are expected to ship in October. Yes, if their sources are correct, that would mean Apple breaking from their annual product cycle and releasing the iPad 3 just six months after the iPad 2.
As exciting as it would be to see an iPad 3 this year, it hardly seems necessary. Despite the modest changes over the original iPad, the iPad 2 is swallowing its competition whole. In the face of a rapidly multiplying number of Android, Blackberry and WebOS, tablets, Apple’s lead has stood firm.
But there could be compelling reasons for releasing the iPad 3 in 2011.
iPad Retina Display
The iPad 2 was an incremental update over the original. This could give Apple an opportunity to release an iPad with a Retina Display.
Of course “Retina Display” is a marketing buzzword used by Apple to describe the iPhone 4’s 326 pixels-per-inch display. They claim that once a screen hits a certain resolution, the human retina can no longer differentiate between individual pixels. Whether you agree with Apple’s hype or not, it’s hard to argue that the iPhone 4 doesn’t have the most beautiful display of any phone. A similar 300+ ppi display on a large tablet screen would stand as a monumental leap forward.
We know that it’s coming at some point, it’s just a question of when. Releasing it now would all but guarantee that no other tablet will even be able to get a foothold in the market this holiday season.
Don’t Mind Jobs ‘Year of the iPad 2’ Comment
Jobs did make it a point to frame 2011 as the “year of the iPad 2” when he announced the product earlier this year. To most, this was interpreted as an indirect response to the speculation (initiated by John Gruber at Daring Fireball) that we would see a second model later in 2011. Of course, if you’re a CEO and blogs are buzzing that the product you’re about to release may be trumped soon by an earlier-than-expected sequel, it could be in your best interest to put out those flames – regardless of what your plans are. A company answers to its CEO, but a CEO answers to his board and shareholders.
iPad 3 for the Holiday Season
It could be that Apple wants to keep its annual release schedule, but would prefer to shift it to October. April isn’t the best month to release hot new gadgets. It makes it too easy for holiday shoppers to hold off on buying the current generation’s model. Rival tablets have a chance to look more appealing by comparison. If they’re going to shift their timing, the only option is to release two in one year (a year and a half between releases isn’t going to happen). This could be what we’re seeing.
Despite the by-and-large market failure of rival tablets, there will be a massive push for the holiday season from Android manufacturers. We may see Quad-core Tegra 3 ‘Kal-El’ chips powering Android devices by then. While customers have shown that specs aren’t a high priority when choosing between an iPad and a rival, Jobs could be seeing this as an opportunity to let his iPad-centric vision of the future unfold. Years before the iPad was released, he saw his tablets one day being a central part of every household. It’s already happening, but releasing a major upgrade this holiday season could make what we’ve seen so far pale in comparison.
Do we know for sure that there will be an updated iPad this October? Of course not. Digitimes‘ info tends to be hit-or-miss, so they could be completely wrong here. But before dismissing it, ask yourself this: do you expect Steve Jobs to rest on his comfortable lead, or to to swing for the fence? I think we all know the answer to that.