Friday, February 10, 2012

iPad 3 launch announcement scheduled for first week in March: report

It's only barely into the second week of February and already the iPad 3 rumors are running full steam ahead. It's because --- assuming Apple sticks to its annual refresh cycle --- the iPad 3 should launch in March.

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Rumors have run that Apple might announce the iPad 3 in February, because with Leap Year, Feb. 29 falls on a Wednesday, and Apple loves aligning itself with past history. A Wednesday announcement for an iPad is de rigueur, but it's not going to be Feb. 29.

Instead, sources say that Apple has chosen the first week in March. If it sticks with Wednesday that would mean a March 7 announcement, and most likely the event will be held in San Francisco at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Apple’s preferred venue for big announcements like these (at least until its new spaceship-style headquarters is built).

Apple typically sends press and media invitations to these events about a week in advance.

There's no word on a street date for the iPad 3. We'd guess it would be late March, but of course, who really knows, except Apple. It's not even a sure thing that it will be announced in March.

Although Apple likes annual refresh cycles, it missed badly with the iPhone 4S. However, the report, coming from AllThingsD as it is, seems credible because of that. The iPad 2 was introduced in March 2011.

As far as specifications for the iPad 3, we're expecting, and sources are saying, that it will be very similar in form factor to the iPad 2, meaning a 9.7-inch screen, but with a faster processor (though whether or not it is quad-core is still up in the air), an improved GPU, and a 2,048 x 1,536 retina display.

Apple proved in 2011 that specs would not win the tablet race. While the iPad 2 was outspecc'ed by many devices, no Android or other device came close to it sales. The Kindle Fire made a dent, but mostly due to price.

Speaking of price, one more big question: will the iPad 2 continue to be sold as a lower cost device when the iPad 3 launches? We're betting the answer will be yes, though with less storage to better reduce the price.

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