Enduring Another Round of iPad Speculation

Noise around the guesses as to what the next iPad is going to be was just starting to simmer down a bit. But, with the impending announcement on March 7, we get to endure another round of “Guess What Apple Is Doing”, starring a diverse collection from the informed and reasonable to the nearly insane and overly optimistic. Of course, everyone is still calling it the “iPad 3”, even though it could just as easily be an iPad 2S. Who knows.A significant number of analysts, pundits and journalists were convinced, with no room for doubt, that we were going to see an “iPhone 5” last fall. And then, when it turned out to be what cooler and more rational heads predicted (the iPhone 4S), we got a barrage of “Apple screwed up” and “Apple let everyone down”. In the mean time, Apple couldn’t make the devices fast enough, and they sold in substantial numbers during the holiday shopping season in November and December. Like in nearly record setting numbers. It boosted Apple’s position in the market, and gave the Android phones a run for their money. Not bad for a device that some dubbed “disappointing”, just because it didn’t meet the specs and designed they had created in their fevered imagination.

So now we get to watch the sideshow again, as so-called “experts” spout off about all the wonderful and amazing technology that the “iPad 3” is going to have. And if it turns out to be an iPad 2S, but with a Retina display, better overall hardware specs and Siri support, we can anticipate the wail of disappointment that, once again, Apple didn’t live up to hype. Worse, it’s hype they didn’t create and really have little control over. What can they do? Pre-release some information? Unofficially “leak” what it will really be? The first is marketing suicide. The second is illegal, being a public company and obligated to carefully control “material information” and how it is disclosed. For better or worse, Apple has engendered this rabid following of over-the-top supporters and equally-over-the-top detractors in the world of journalism.

I’ll be excited for March 7 to come, not just because I want to see what Apple has next, but if only to end the speculation and rampant “let’s make a bad guess based on a fuzzy picture of a case that is supposedly for the new device”. I can already see the pundits parsing the invitation’s text (“We have something you really have to see. And touch.”), looking for clues as to what it might be. Does the “really have to see” mean a Retina display? Or is it a new form-factor and new design? Does the part about touching have to do with some new paradigm or some new approach?

My guess (and it will probably be wrong): we get an iPad 2S, with Retina display, better overall hardware, more storage, possibly 4G, and Siri support. The iPad 2 continues on, with some models removed from the line-up and the price is reduced. There, I’ve made my guess using about as much information as most of the others who will also guess. I’m just following Apple’s pattern: a brand new, net-new, never been seen before product, followed by a vastly improved new version, followed by an upgrade. Then we get a new version and an upgrade in alternating years. They did it with the MacBook Air, the iPhone and the first aluminum MacBooks. So far, the AppleTV has held to the same pattern, at least for the first 2 versions. The iPad’s first 2 versions followed the same script: the iPad, then the all-new and very different iPad 2. If Apple holds to the same pattern they’ve followed for the past 5 years or so, an iPad 2S would be the bet to make. But in the end, I’m still just guessing.