iPad 3 Rumors & Thoughts – Part 3: Release and Model Designation

Over that past couple blog entries, we’ve been looking at iPad 3 rumors. There’s been a lot of chatter, and we’ve looked at both hardware and software related gossip.  In this last iPad 3 hub-bub blog, let’s take a look at when, what, and which tablets will be available when.

 

Release Date
Last year, Apple’s iPad 2 was announced on 02, March.  Since Steve passed away, rumors have been mounting that the upgraded iPad 3 will be released on his birthday, or somewhere close.

It seems that this year’s announcement will be made at around the same timeframe as last year’s announcement.  Apple currently has an event scheduled for the first week of March. While the company hasn’t come out and either confirmed it or set the ACTUAL date, clearly point to an event in San Francisco at the beginning of next month. AllThingsD isn’t always correct, but they do seem to have the inside track on many things.  This rumor also seems to be accurate, as no one has come out to shoot it down.  Look for one or two more developments in this area – an actual event scheduling, or a “mea culpa” from ATD.

Device Designation – iPad 3, HD, or 2S
This and the last rumor I’ve heard and give credibility to are closely tied together.  The actual product name for the next generation iPad hasn’t been announced yet, and a credible, “it’s definitely gonna be called…” rumor has yet to hit the airwaves.

As far as my thoughts on this..? Again, that depends on one or two major marketing decisions. I’ve heard additional rumors that due to space considerations the A6 processor that is rumored to be used in the iPad 3 won’t be quad-core. A quad-core processor would be too big to fit in the body shapes that we’ve seen hitting rumors sites. As such, the A6 will be dual-core.

If the A6 is just a revamped or upgraded A5 dual-core processor, look for the next generation iPad to be called the iPad 2S. If iPad 3 gets the upgraded screen we’ve been talking about, even with the dual-core A6, look for the next generation iPad to be called the iPad HD or again, the 2S.

Apple seems in love with its “S” identifier for hardware models that offer differentiation, but not enough to warrant a new model designation. While the iPad HD designation really sounds sexy and may be favorably received, they’ve not used this type of designation on any other devices that sport HD screens (like their MacBook Pro’s that offer HD screens).  So, I really don’t see them using it for iPad. However, you can look for the iPad 3 designation to be used on a chassis/ device form factor redesign, like the one between the iPad and the iPad 2.

Available Models
Here’s where things get interesting… if the A6 dual-core rumors are true, I really do think that the iPad 3 will be released as the iPad 2S.  I also think at that point, that we’ll see a similar marketing move with it as we saw with the iPhone 4/4S – the older model will be reduced in price, will be made available in a single connectivity (Wi-Fi only) and storage size option (likely 16GB); and be sold alongside its newly introduced sibling.

The iPad 2 is a strong seller, and more importantly is a very capable tablet.  It seems logical that Apple would greatly reduce the price and capture even more of the tablet market with an iPad 2, priced at say, $299-$349.  If that happens, you’ll definitely see me pick up an iPad 2. If not, then I probably won’t, as my iPad 1 works just fine for what I do with it (eBooks and movies on the commute to and from work).

Wrapping it all up
Any way you slice it, Apple Watching is an interesting sport. It’s very difficult to channel their marketing people, and their intended direction.  The one thing that I can say with 100% certainty, however, is that 2012 plans to be a banner year for the most valuable company in the world. With the release of both the iPad 3/HD/2S and the iPhone 5 almost a certainty, Apple stock will continue its upward climb.  The company will capture more tablet, smartphone and enterprise market share, as consumers continue to fall in love with its products.

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