Friday, December 30, 2011

Don't look for two, or even one iPad 3s to be intro'ed at iWorld or CES

Apple is rumored to be launching two --- not one --- new model of iPad in January, but although there is much in the report that seems "reasonable" there is also quite a bit that seems questionable.

DigiTimes, which sources its information from the upstream supply chain, said that Apple is set to unveil its next-generation iPad at iWorld, which is scheduled for January 26, 2012. Not only that, Apple will unveil two new models, not one, and keep the iPad 2 around as a lower-cost option, much as the company has done with the prior generation iPhone when it unveils a new model.

According to the report, the iPad 2 will compete with the Kindle Fire in the low-end market. The two new iPads, which we assume will be called iPad 3s, will continue with the same 9.7-inch screen as before, but come with double the resolution of prior iPads (2048 x 1536), allowing Apple to claim a "retina display." Dual-LED light bars will light the screen, for beter brightness.

The new iPad 3s will also sport high-capacity batteries offering about twice the mAh as current ones.

The report continues: Samsung will continue to be Apple's processor supplier, manufacturing the new quad-core A6 SoCs. The only differentiating factor between the mid-range iPad 3 and the high-end model that the report listed was a 5MP rear-facing camera on the mid-range, and an 8MP camera on the high-end.

There are a number of things in the report which ring true, and some which have even been rumored previously: the A6 processor, the dual-LED light bars, the higher resolution. It's been suggested that Apple keep the iPad 2 around when the iPad 3 arrives, for just the reason given in the report: to compete with lower end models like the Kindle Fire, though it would be hard to see how Apple could reduce the price from $499 to $199 for the iPad 2, even if it cut internal storage to 8GB.

Amazon.com is fine with losing money on the Kindle Fire, as it's not just a device for the Internet retailer to sell; it's an introductory portal to the Amazon.com website and to Kindle e-books.

So, all that seems reasonable.

What seems more questionable is Apple continuing to use Samsung as a SoC manufacturer. It's no secret that Apple has made moves to divest itself of dependence on Samsung for key components; one need only look at the legal battles between the two to see why. Reports are also that TSMC has already initiated trial production runs of the A6 SoC.

Second, iWorld is the renamed MacWorld. Since Apple decided to leave that trade show after the 2008 show, does it make sense that it would go back in 2012? Not really. Apple said then that in the New World Order that is journalists falling over themselves for any Apple press conference, there was no need for it to leverage someone else's trade show (which includes CES as well as MacWorld / iWorld).

Admittedly, the report may be leaving out a lot, but the only list differentiating factor would seem to be the camera resolution. It would actually make more sense to have a mid-range model in the 8-inch range. Apple also hasn't been exactly worried about the iPad's cameras; not only was the first model launched sans cameras, the iPad 2 has cameras which were highly criticized for their lack of oomph.

So it's unclear that Apple cares enough about sheer MP to even bother with a 5MP and 8MP camera in the device. After all, the iPad models have sold less on specs, and more on what they can do, which is the magic of Apple marketing: focusing on what consumers understand instead of specs they don't, as Android ads tend to do.

Finally, January seems a little early. Most rumors, and there have been plenty already, have pointed to a February launch as more likely.

So, iWorld will be Apple-less again, and so will CES, and no, we won't be seeing an iPad 3 there, and certainly not two. An iPad 3 launch in February and release in March, right on track for the one year refresh? Now that seems very plausible.



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