Originally Posted by 2oh1
I won't be surprised at all if it's just a modest update. Perhaps an iPad 2S. And I don't mean that in a bad way.
People on the internet freaked out when there was no iPhone 5 last year, but look at the sales figures for the iPhone 4S. They've been through the roof.
Don't get me wrong... I'd love to see an awesome iPad update, but if Apple thinks there's a serious iPad competitor on the way (one that doesn't have to sell below cost to attract buyers), it might make sense to launch a big update to the iPad and steal any wind from the competitor's sails.
I, too, expect something akin to a 2S sort of update, despite rumours to the contrary. I do think that if in fact that is the case, all the talk of Retina Displays, etc. really is unfair to Apple.
Apple has simply not said that the next iPad would have such technology. As such, the test of whether or not Apple delivers a decent product is not how close the new version is to what it is rumoured to be. Apple can't disappoint because Apple is not the source of all the wild speculation. No promises have been made, not a single one.
Seems to me that it's important to remember this because, let's face it, there is an expectation that has been created by sources outside the company for which Apple is in no way responsible. If, when the next iPad is unveiled either late next month or some time in March, we get a lighter version of the current from factor with an upgraded processor, this is not bad news.
My belief is that Apple will increase the resolution of the iPad screen when it becomes possible to do so with absolutely no penalty in terms of weight, speed, battery life and most of all price. If to deliver the higher resolution, those other items have to take a hit, Apple will have helped the competition finally catch up.
If Apple were to offer two versions, one something akin to a 2S and the other a pricer iPad3 with a high-resolution screen, my prediction is that the cheaper 2S would dramatically outsell the higher-cost version, so much so that Apple couldn't afford to stop making the 2S and the volume on the iPad 3 would be such that Apple's profits on that version would take a drastic hit.
It would be something akin to Apple competing against itself and as a result spending a lot of time and money developing a product that Apple itself guaranteed would be a sales flop. Using US prices, offering a $500 starting point on a line of tablets is the key to Apple's success with this previously unsuccessful form factor. Tablets were tried before but others simply got it wrong. Give people an enjoyable-to-use tablet and bring it in for about $500. That, essentially, is the winning formula that has made the iPad arguably the most successful electronic device ever.
Let's consider what an iPad 3 with the Retina Display would look like. I'm figuring something like a $649 price starting point (in the US) for the 16GB version, with $749 for the 32GB model, and $849 for the 64GB version in wi-fi only form. If you want 3G, then the pricing would be something like $749, $849, and $949.
So, do you buy the iPad 3 for $949 or the Macbook Air for $999. That is assuming there is no price drop for the Air which is questionable because there are a lot of competitors coming in that category. It would be problematic if a 64GB iPad was the same price as the base Macbook Air.
If you had a more affordable 2S iPad to choose from in addition to the Air which might be coming in closer to $899 before long, the top-of-the-line iPad under such a scheme would have to be considered a rather pointless product with little hope of being a popular device.
At some point, when display technology makes a high-resolution iPad practical, Apple will likely go there. That point, however, is not likely to be March 2012.