Today Apple announced the new fourth generation iPad, and quietly killed the third-generation iPad it introduced in March. This is the first time Apple’s introduced a new iPad model just before the holiday shopping season, a timeframe Apple will likely stick with, just as it’s done with the iPhone line for the past two releases.
Apple released the third-generation iPad on March 16, almost exactly a year after the iPad 2. That means the third-generation iPad’s lifespan is just 221 days (7 months and 7 days).
By introducing the fourth generation iPad today Apple most likely reset the timing for its iPad release schedule. For the first two years of the line’s life Apple announced new devices in February or March every year, just a few months after the holiday season.
The early death of the third-generation iPad doesn’t mean users should run to the store to buy the fourth generation, however. While the new iPad has a faster processor than the previous model, it’s virtually identical in every other way save for the Lightening connector. That means the new model won’t work with older accessories without an adapter.
So far Apple is the only company that makes Lightning cables and accessories, and it only makes half a dozen of them. Of those accessories, two are adapters to the 30-pin dock connector, two are for connecting to a camera, and the other two are for audio/video out. There are no docks or speakers available for the new iPad with Lightning yet.
Lighting accessories will likely arrive sometime this holiday season, with more coming early next year. In the meantime, users with the third-generation iPad can still use all the dock connector accessories already available. The accessories might even drop in price as more users switch to devices with the Lightning port.
The big star of Apple’s special event today was the new iPad Mini, a new device that starts at $329.