Given that Apple's always played the tune of smaller, lighter, thinner — I don't see why they'd continue iterating on the large iPad. It was an introductory size used to clearly define a new segment (and probably based, to some degree, on technical limitations of the time), but it is losing relevance.
The iPad mini is a perfect size and weight, very portable without feeling small or cramped. Throw in a Retina display and A6x chip and this will be a true beauty to behold. My guess is the next year will hold:
- Intro of iPad Mini 2 with Retina display and A6x (high-end)
- Intro of iPad Mini 2 with non-retina display and A6x (mid-end)
- Continued sales of current iPad Mini (low-end)
- Phasing out of original iPad form factor. Gen. 4 could be the last or second-to-last of the big iPads -- or -- a groundbreaking technology or re-focus of the large iPad that clearly defines WHY it needs to exist. Consumer question to answer: what makes the extra weight and size worth it?
Of course, all will depend on exactly how sales played out this holiday quarter, the level of cannibalization from the Mini and general consumer interest in one form factor vs. the other.
The error I think Apple made here was thinking that a Retina display was enough to differentiate a product for an upgrade cycle. Average consumers are unaware of the concept of resolution and do not have the critical eye necessary to tell the difference unless it is pointed out to them. Apple, being a company of design snobs obsessed with perfection (I mean that in a loving way) is easily wowed internally by these kinds of technological gems and, in their awed blindness, didn't consider that it might mean very little to Bob Q. Consumer. Indeed, Mr. Consumer seemed to pretty heavily opt for the cheaper iPad 2.