There’s been plenty of talk about a so-called iPad 3 hitting shelves later this year. But a new string of reports, from seemingly credible sources, suggest Apple’s plans for its next tablet do not take in an all-encompassing update, rather an iterative boost.
This will see the next iPad dubbed the iPad 2 Plus or, according to This Is My Next’s interesting piece on the subject, the iPad HD.
The latter certainly makes sense in light of the news that the new tablet is expected to have double the screen resolution of the current model, up to 2048x1536. But what’s telling is the widespread insinuation that the iPad HD won’t replace the iPad 2, but simply be a ‘pro’ model aimed at creative types who want improved screen technology to allow them to work better while they’re on the move.
That and talk of versions of Final Cut Pro and Aperture suggest Apple is well on the way to getting this new iPad sorted. But that's not to say that releasing such an update so soon after the iPad 2 isn't a gamble.
How will consumers who’ve paid north of £400 for a model feel when their kit is gazumped just months later? Peeved in some cases, without doubt. But that’s to miss the bigger picture. Because Apple won’t be replacing the iPad 2, simply supplementing it.
This has echoes in its iPod and iPod mini strategy, the latter helping the music player become truly mainstream overnight. In this case, it’s the other way round: the iPad HD will be built for hardcore, power users. Meanwhile, the current model will be aimed at those who want the iPad’s breezy functionality and vast app repository without using it for work or creative projects.
If you add a modest price drop into the mix, the iPad 2 suddenly becomes a whole lot more desirable to those who’ve previously been put off by its high price tag. New users will clamour for the basic model, while existing and power users look to the iPad HD to sate their Apple addiction.
The timing is critical. If Apple does out the iPad HD in September, along with iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S/5, it’ll have a huge advantage against Android tablets which are still waiting for Ice Cream Sandwich. While Samsung’s Galaxy Tabs are doing well, the Motorola Xoom is struggling and manufacturers are failing to keep pace with Apple.
By tweaking the screen of the iPad and billing it as HD, Apple will get another lease of life from its slate thanks to a relatively minor change. It can then sit back and work on the iPad 3 proper, while rivals try desperately to work out their response. Whatever they manage, it’s unlikely it will be enough to eat substantially into Apple’s epic share of the tablet space.
This is my next