Originally Posted by Aizmov
What are the chances of their being a retina model next year?
No one actually knows for sure that this year's model won't have a Retina display. The idea that it will be 1024x768 actually just comes from a single, idle "musing" by John Gruber. The blogosphere has picked that up and turned it into an solid expectation but as far as I have heard it isn't confirmed at all.
The way I see it, there are basically two possible strategies:
1) The mini is a cheap, small, and uses last years tech, cutting corners wherever they can.
In this scenario you'd expect it to be dirt cheap. It would have to be priced lower than even last year's iPad as it would not be as capable as last year's iPad. It would be competing head to head with kindle and hopefully in the $200 range. One would expect a plastic housing, non HD cameras, the low res 1024x768 screen, some kind of crap A4x or A5x processor that's "good enough" etc., etc.
Or ... they stop the strategy of selling last year's iPads at all and ...
2) The mini uses this year's tech and is just a smaller version of the current iPad (replacing the need for selling last year's model).
In this scenario, it would have an aluminium back, HD cameras, a Retina display and maybe even an A6 processor, and be priced more in the $300 range.
It looks to me like they are leaning towards option number 2 which is why I think they may be also revamping the current iPad model at the same time.
Think how confusing it will be if they come out with a mini, also come out with a revision to "iPad 3," and also keep selling iPad 2. Would they also keep selling iPad 3? If they do that makes iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 3r, and iPad mini all on sale at the same time. They would also need to change the name of iPad 3 from it's current "the new iPad" so they could use that for iPad 4. Even if they drop the current "new iPad" (iPad 3), for "iPad 3r" (or some new name), that's almost as confusing as the first option.
How do you tell customers that "the new iPad" is actually different from "the new iPad" they were selling in the early part of the same year, and that the old one (now called something else), is the same model, but different? The new revised iPad if it exists, will also look more like iPad 2 than the current "the new iPad." You will have two almost indistinguishable iPads, but with more or less a two year gap in technology between them. Also, what's the point of selling an almost two year old model for cheap (because it's old), when you have a brand new "cheap" iPad (the mini)? And why perpetuate problems by selling either one or two models of the iPad with the 30 pin connector while simultaneously selling two models with the lightning connector?
If you simply throw away all the old models and just say iPad 3r == "iPad," the new mini takes the cheap seats as simply "iPad mini," and that's the whole lineup, period. All of a sudden everything is clear and simple.
The downside is that it means that the iPad mini won't really be "cheap" at all, and Apple will have failed yet again to make an affordable product for the masses and made another high-end toy instead. Apple always has had a blind spot when it comes to pricing though so this is hardly unusual. The upside is that the new mini could and perhaps should have a Retina display in this scenario.