∞ About this iPad 3

It seems really crazy to be talking — or even thinking about — the iPad 3, but here we are.

[ad#Google Adsense 300×250 in story]John Gruber set off a firestorm of speculation and rumor yesterday when he guessed that Apple may release two iPads in 2011. One iPad fairly soon, and another in the September timeframe.

I’ve known Gruber for a long time and know that he has solid sources, but his post yesterday was just as much about how people don’t read. He specifically said that he was guessing and had no inside knowledge of what was going to happen. I take him at his word.

Let’s talk about the iPad 2 for just a minute. Rumors circulated last week that the iPad 2 was going to be announced at an event this week. Clearly that was wrong. Then stories said the iPad 2 announcement was delayed — wrong again.

The iPad 2 was never scheduled to be released or announced this week, so it can’t be delayed.

I expect the iPad 2 to be announced in March with a ship date in April. I’ve said that all along.

Now, let’s look at Gruber’s take on the iPad 3. His speculation makes sense — a new iPad that won’t really replace the iPad 2, but rather add to the product line.

In theory, I agree with that. At some point, the iPad has to become a product family instead of just a product. The September timeframe makes sense for this to happen for a couple of reasons.

As Gruber points out, the annual iPod event takes place in September, but the iPods aren’t selling like they used to. They are still a huge money-maker for the company, but when you’re looking at the holiday shopping season, having something like a new iPad would boost sales by an incredible amount.

There’s another reason that Apple could release an iPad in the September timeframe that I feel has been overlooked. The iPad’s competition.

Currently the iPad has no competition, but by this summer, there will be a lot of tablets on the market. RIM’s PlayBook, HP’s tablet and many others.

Instead of competing with over 100 previously announced tablets, I believe Apple will want to change the game. And they’ve done it before.

Remember the iPod mini? It was Apple’s most successful iPod outselling all other models of its time. And Apple discontinued it. Just as the competition could say, “we have a music player just like the iPod mini,” Apple canceled it and started over, releasing the iPod nano.

This threw the competition into a tailspin. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Apple do it again, this time with the iPad.

Like Gruber, I don’t think Apple will kill off the current iPad line, but rather enhance the line and change the game that its competition thinks its playing.

It’s been a year since the original iPad release and there is still no competition. If Apple switches things up just as everyone releases their tablets, they will throw the competition into a tailspin again.

With iTunes, the App Store and the iOS, it’s going to be hard for any company to compete with Apple. If Apple continues to switch things up at every turn, it will be almost impossible for the competition to even stay in the game.

  • If there is a new iPad in September, it will augment the iPad line; not replace iPad 2 IMO. So, it would be more like an iPad 2 Shuffle (or iPad 2 Pro), not an iPad 3.

    • Anonymous

      You could see April bring a dual lineup of iPad 2 and iPad 1, then in September, see iPad 1 retired for a dual lineup of iPad 3 and iPad 2. This would also enable them to phase out models gradually, rather than having no product for 1 month of the year every year before the next model is released.

  • True

  • Darby Lines wrote a short blog post about how he bets the tech press will treat this “not even a rumour, it’s guessing” iPad 3 release date as fact in less than 24 hours. He was right.

    It’s incredible just how stupid many pundits are. They lack basic reading comprehension skills. I agree with Gruber’s and your analysis of the situation, as it’s what I expect from Apple.

    • Anonymous

      They read it, they comprehended, then they went back to work exploiting anything and everything for click bait.

      The press is not stupid, they simply lack ethics.

  • September is too late for a new iPad to make it into the back-to-school buying season. That was fine for iPods, but the iPad can replace the usual laptop purchase that a lot of kid’s parents make in mid-to-late Summer, so I think it needs to be released earlier.

    • Anonymous

      That’s an interesting point. The iPad hasn’t even scratched the surface of its potential in the education market yet, and you’re correct that the iPod never had that appeal.

  • Anonymous

    I think that Gruber’s post is extremely interesting. He never said in the post (I think intentionally) what he was exactly guessing at: a fall iPad release or why there would be a fall iPad release. The rest of his post from then on was why a Sept. iPad event would exist. Even in an earlier post of his he doubted that Engadget’s sources were true. Now he’s trying to find an explanation to why their sources might be true.

    Suddenly in the same day we see a post from MG Siegler that there will be a new iPad in Sept..

    What do I guess:

    1. Gruber knows there’s going to be a new iPad in the fall and he doesn’t want to disrupt iPad sales by posting this so uses the word “guess” but slyly doesn’t refer to what he’s guessing to.

    2. He still doesn’t know why there is a new iPad coming in the fall. In a tweet converstion to @counternotions:

    @counternotions: What @gruber doesn’t say in iPad3-this-Sept scenario is if this is one-time event or if iPad is now on a 6-8 month update schedule. Issues.

    Gruber’s reply:

    Omitted intentionally. I could see it as every six months, like when the PC industry was young.

    This, I believe, is what Gruber was guessing about. Otherwise this fall release is coming out of nowhere, especially for a starred post. The best guess is an educated one and I believe that is what Gruber is using here.

    • Anonymous

      It’s a guess based on informed opinion. There is lots of public information to go on. And he has some private sources, too, giving him other bits and pieces. I doubt any of his sources are highly-placed enough to know this is happening.

      iPhone 4.5 just got released 6 months after iPhone 4, and 6 months before iPhone 5. It’s not that hard to guess that we go iPad 2, then iPad 2.5 6 months later.

      The yearly release cycles for iOS devices were always strange. Macs are every 8 months and mobile moves faster. And during the 11th month of a cycle, Apple would sell almost no product. May would be the only month iPhone was number 2, and August would be the only month iPod was number 2.

      They are already doing 2 iPhones per year, and usually 2 iPod touches per year (not this year) so why not stagger them? Then you can quietly phase out one while the other sells full-speed, then bring in another and lower the price of the existing model (for example, iPhone 4.5 comes in, iPhone 3GS drops to $49).

      Also, you can get “new iPhone!” and “new iPad!” stories twice a year. You can sell to business in May and consumers in October.

      And Antennagate was a hysterical reaction to the idea “what if Apple’s 1 phone release this year is a dud?” and the stories wrote themselves. If a new iPhone is expected 6 months from now, then a particular model underperforming or even just taking a PR hit is not seen as such a big deal.

      And competitors are kept guessing because they don’t know what iPhone features they will be up against in 6 months. Similar to now? Very different?

  • Anonymous

    I just don’t buy the whole scenario. People who purchased an iPad 2 in the Spring would be very unhappy to be put in the shade by an iPad 3 in only a few months (remember the uproar when much the same thing happened with the iPhone?).

    • The same thing happened with the iPhone? I can only remember a price drop that people got upset about, not a new model.

      I also think that people would only be upset because it’s Apple. With PCs consumers have gotten used to their newly bought PC being obsolete as soon as they leave the store with it. In the smartphone market vendors push out hardware updates on a monthly schedule and regular consumers have gotten used to it.

      Your comment shows that the predictability of product updates by Apple is highly underrated.

      I think Jim and Mr. Gruber are onto something, guessing Apple just might differentiate the iPad line into two models; one will be unveiled in March, the other one in August/September (10″ & 7″). Or Apple could treat the iPad more like a classical personal computer and push-out updates in a six month rhythm — although I find that highly unlikely.

    • Anonymous

      There is a new iPhone on sale today, and people who bought iPhone 4 only 6 months ago don’t seem unhappy about it.

      You buy an iPhone or iPad every 2 years. Whether you miss one rev or 3 in that time doesn’t matter. The more they push ahead, the better it is for you.

    • Ipad?

      Maybe they are ”the same generation” just little different, if people want flash and rear facing camera or maybe they have different features. Like x10mini and x10mini pro

  • I like the 2iPads theory. Apple starts covering the bases, ala iPhone/iPod Touch/iPod Nano etc. in the mobile arena. Or extending it’s mobile reach actually. And don’t think Apple isn’t ten steps ahead. What would an iPad Pro look like?

  • Steve Jobs said he thought the 7″ size was dumb, but could this be the addition to the family? Maybe at a higher resolution?

    • “At some point, the iPad has to become a product family instead of just a product.”

      This is a very astute observation. I’m convinced we will see TWO important iPad announcements this year, spaced well apart of course. The first will be an update of the existing product, the second will be the ‘high end’ model marking the beginning of the iPad ‘family’.

      “Steve Jobs said he thought the 7″ size was dumb, but could this be the addition to the family? Maybe at a higher resolution?”

      Agreed. This new ‘family member’ could well be a 7″ model with a Retina display (especially if larger Retinas are still unavailable). I know what Jobs said about the evils of scaling down touch interfaces (i.e., scaled-down iPad apps), but scaling them UP from the iPhone would work just fine. (Besides, if a smaller iPad with a Retina display took off, custom-fit apps would not trail far behind.)

      After all, what differentiates the iPod family? Size and capacity. Well, same principle applies here.

      • Anonymous

        No, no 7 inch iPad. A 7 inch iOS device would be a larger iPod touch, not a smaller iPad. It would not be able to run iPad apps. It would run the 3.5 inch apps scaled up, same as other 7 inch devices. That is something that is not that popular … not on iPad, or on any existing 7 inch tablet device, which are not selling. The 7 inch screen is not 70% of the size of an iPad like it sounds, it is 46% of an iPad, less than half the size.

        There has never been a graphical PC with 7 inch screen. That is not a PC class screen. Even the original 1984 Mac had 9 inches. iPad is a mobile PC, not mobile phone. It runs PC class apps on a PC class screen and PC class core operating system as its primary purpose. A 7 inch iPad is as likely as a 7 inch Mac (which ironically, would be more usable because the mouse pointer would also scale down, whereas fingers do not.)

        If an expansion of the iPad line features a new screen size, it would be bigger. But I don’t expect that either.

        On a mouse-driven PC, you can scale the display as an option because the mouse pointer scales. Scaling a touch-driven PC is like scaling the mechanical keyboard of a traditional PC. Notice that MacBook Air 11/13 and MacBook Pro 13/15/17 all have the exact same size keyboard (except the new MacBook Airs have an extra function key.) Even a 27 inch iMac has that same keyboard. With a touch-driven device, the screen is inside the keyboard. You do not want to change the keyboard size.

        So I expect the iPad line to expand in other ways:

        • introduce a dual-core SoC and keep selling the single-core for less • introduce a model with Retina Display and keep selling the low-res display for less • more RAM, more storage

        Ideally, the iPad would sell for $299 to $799 and the low-end and high-end would be compatible like iPhone 4 and 3GS are compatible. The low-end would be slower and low-res, but still a full iPad with 10-inch PC class apps.

    • Agree on the “family” idea. Would kill for the same resolution display in a 7″ form factor.

      Steve also mentioned at some point that larger form factors would be worthwhile, aka the Kindle DX. How about a larger tablet that might be better suited for schools, businesses, hospitals, and other fields?

    • Anonymous


    • Ozredpajero

      I thought the same thing…. It just makes sense!

  • sl149q

    iPad 2 – newer slimmer faster better iPad Touch – slimmed down 7″ version, ties the iPod Touch and iPad product lines together

    • Mhart

      iPad 2 = iPad & iPad Pro

      Sept –

      iPad Mini & inch iPad Nano (rebrand the iPod touch with new features)

  • I’m struggling to understand what claim is being made here. I’m sure it’s just me, but I don’t really understand this post and surprisingly, I don’t understand Gruber’s, either. You’re saying that there’s going to be the iPad 2 in a few weeks with lots of improvements but the same resolution, and then in the fall there’s going to be a super iPad with high resolution? Or what?

    Why would Apple do this? Surely it wouldn’t take more than a year for Apple to figure out how to put affordable retina displays into ordinary iPads. When that happens, what is the Super iPad for? There’s no need to go beyond a certain pixel density because the eye can’t see the difference.

    I’m really not trying to be obtuse, but I just don’t get this at all.

    • kibbles

      what dont you get? new ipad in a month or so w/ the most recent tweaks (ram, cam, thinner, maybe cpu). then in the fall a totally new ipad, one that turns the ipad into a family of products.

      dont understand your comment about Super iPad and retina. the “iPad 3” or whatever we want to call the Sept. iPad would be the super ipad, and it would possibly have the new retina display.

      thats what we’re talking about.

      • I understand. Not all of us are native English speakers. I’ll try again. What I don’t understand is why Apple would do something so stupid as to launch a “family” if iPad products that are essentially the same, except one has a high-resolution screen, when a year hence the cheap one will have a high-resolution screen, too. First, merely having a high-resolution screen is a stupid reason to introduce such marketing and logistical complexity to a product line. Second, that distinction goes away in a year. So it’s a dumb idea. That’s what I don’t understand.

  • Dhrakar

    Actually, what about the use of an entirely new display tech? For example, Apple may have bought up the entire run of one of the hybrid displays (like PixelQ) that behave like both an LCD and eInk. This would completely shake up the tablet market as it would be a combo of kindle and iPad. So Stev could get up on stage and say that a 7″ LCD display was dumb, but a 7″ hybrid display was to die for…

  • Anonymous

    Apple has a lot of options because of the depth and flexibility of OS X and the breadth of their lineup, from iPod shuffle to Mac Pro. And because they make all the bits, both the SoC and all the software. And because iPad has been in the works since 2003.

    The A4 was from the Intrinsity purchase. We haven’t seen the results of PA Semi yet. What if its a chip with 8 ARM cores that enables even the most demanding PC software to be ported to iPad? Everybody else is stuck buying dual core SoC’s from 3 vendors whose mission is to make the most generic, most widely salable part.

    Other manufacturers really are looking at tablets as big mobile phones, but I think Apple quite rightly looks at iPad as a small mobile PC. RIM is so proud of its giant 7-inch screen and powerful 2×1.2GHz chip they can’t imagine anything bigger. It’s easy for Apple to say “how many ARM cores do we need to drop Intel altogether?” They can think much, much bigger.

    One example of Apple thinking ahead is the iPad display pixel dimensions. They took some heat because 1024×768 is too small to do native HD. Just a little bigger and you can do the small HD size called 720p at 1:1 pixel ratio. Instead, they went a little smaller to a “1K” screen, which is not very marketing-friendly. But what are the next video sizes up from 720p/1080p HD? Something called “2K/4K.” How do you make a 1K screen into a 2K screen? Double the resolution (quadruple the pixels) in the exact way that happened with iPhone 4. So although the current iPad is not HD-compatible, it is 4K-compatible. Other companies would have prioritized stamping “HD” on there. Apple prioritized long-term platform compatibility.

    And they were working on iPad 2 years before the Intel transition on the Mac. They’ve had so much time to plan how iPad can grow beyond its first incarnation. I’m really happy with my iPad, and I’ll likely run it for its full 2 year life and retire it in mid-2012, but I’m really going to enjoy the tablet market as a kind of gladiator match in the meantime. With Microsoft removed, we have actual competition in PC’s again. HP showed off software features yesterday! They were like “buy our tablet because the keyboard has numbers on the first screen and can go small, medium, large.” Fantastic. They were speaking to users, not CIO’s, about the unique features of their own product, not “we have the same thing as Dell but with 27% more reliability and 34% easier deployment.”

  • Gustav

    7″ iPads are just an odd size. I’m not talking about number of pixels, I’m talking about physical size. It’s too large for apps designed for a phone, and too small for apps designed for a tablet. Imagine trying to work with the iPad version of Pages on a 7″ screen? It’d be awful to try to work with using your fingers, and the text of a full page would be two small to read – even with a Retina display.

    And if it’s just scaled up phone apps, well, what’s the point? The apps are already designed to run on smaller screens. A 7″ phone app is reminiscent of those novelty giant-button calculators you see at Staples that nobody buys.

  • Sometimes while reading comments on articles like this I question my sanity. Of course Steve Jobs has said things that later he would do but I’m pretty much guaranteeing you will never see a 7 inch iPad. That is not to say they won’t do some other device that is around that size but I highly doubt it will function like their tablet.

    That said I really don’t see Apple doing one product this spring and then a better product in the fall. That alienates a lot of people who buy the iPad 2. They aren’t going to fork over 499 – 899 twice. These rumors suck for consumers like me who say to themselves “well wait so I should wait until September just to make sure I get the latest and greatest.”

    I guess with Apple it is all wait and see but I don’t like bloggers who throw around rumors like they are facts. It is lazy journalism.

  • ipad?

    The iPad is not portable enough to take out, but its perfect to have at home. that makes the big screen just better, 7 inch is dumb.

  • awesome! how much its expensive

  • i know its expensive but how much?? bro dunt be silly

  • Jonannwesley5

    I agree, nothing can top the Apple, Ipads Period!

  • Khanjuoch

    oh my God that’s good would u give me one