Big news today regarding the iPad 3. It looks like the highly anticipated update of Apple’s top-selling tablet is set for a March 7 announcement. The news was broken today by Apple rumor website iMore. I cannot give much insight as to how good iMore’s sources are or how successful they have been in the past, as it is not a website I regularly read. What I can tell you is that most of the feature updates are right on par with what I envision for the iPad product roadmap. Let’s take a look at it feature-by-feature:
Retina Display: This IMHO is an all but sure thing update we will see next month. Most media outlets agree that the iPad 3 “Retina Display” will feature a 2048x1536 screen resolution – slightly higher than that of the 27” iMac. To get an idea of exactly how ridiculous this resolution is, check out this picture created by clkoerner. It’s large enough to watch a Blu-Ray DVD and still have 100 pixels on the side and 500 pixels on the bottom. I get giddy just thinking about what Apple has up their sleeve for that extra space – think HD gaming with plenty of space for controls. This rumor goes hand-in-hand with Apple’s incredibly effective strategy of using their supply chain prowess to leave competitors in the dust. A special note: as of today, 720p is the highest resolution HD content available in the iTunes store. I would be surprised if Apple waited until the fall to launch 1080p videos. What better platform to launch with than one that sold 40 million units in 2011?
4G LTE: Being an AT&T customer with an iPhone, I have basically zero experience in the field with LTE. Of course I have seen the propaganda spread by the wireless providers, but I take everything they say with a grain of salt. I looked around to see if I could find some numbers on the 3G rollout back in the mid-2000’s, but could not find much. It seems to me that 4G is in a similar place as 3G was back in 2007 when the original iPhone launched. Waiting turned out to be brilliant for Apple, they had that “wow” feature to launch the gen-2 iPhone with a bang. I strongly believe that Apple will wait on this technology until the chipset uses less battery life and the network is a little more established.
A6 Processor: Fanboys and writers alike have been going back and forth on this one for the last 6 months. Original reports had Apple launching their baby, the quad-core A6 processor, this year in both the iPad 3 and the iPhone 5. Don’t get me wrong – if the chip is not ready, Apple will not launch. We have seen this in the past with the white iPhone 4. I do not have any supply chain evidence or past data to work with on this one, but my gut tells me that Apple does have their A6 chip ready and will introduce it to the world in the iPad 3 update.
NFC: I am a very big fan of NFC technology. I think it will be very useful in the future for mobile payments, checking-in, deal redemption, and many other things. However, I think paying for one in the iPad 3 is a waste of time and money on the BOM. There is not much NFC infrastructure in place and you should not expect Apple to introduce this technology into their product line in their tablet. Do not expect to see NFC in Apple products until the iPhone 5 at the very earliest.
Thunderbolt: Rumors about a 30-pin dock connector for the update. This may be true, but if anything it will be USB 3.0. Apple’s vision for their products involves putting everything into iCloud. I do not see any scenario where they invest time and energy into iPad “wired” technology. No Thunderbolt.
- SD card slot: Not a chance. But we may get AirDrop for transferring files - again, think iCloud.
- Better camera: It seems that every iPad & iPhone update includes this these days. Plus we’ve seen leaks of the case and there appears to be a larger spot for the camera. I’d say this one is a go.
- Siri: Yup. Apple wants as much data on Siri as they can get. More products = more data = Siri becoming more than just a novelty app that tells jokes and tells you where to hide dead bodies.
- 3D display: Let’s be honest, 3D has been getting less and less cool since the day Avatar was released. My 3D TV in my living room reminds me of diorama; t looks like I am looking into a 3-dimensional box. In no way do you see things popping out at you the way they advertise. 3D on an iPad would be a waste of money. If you think it’ll work for gaming applications, take a look at the wild success of the Nintendo 3DS.
- “iPad 2S” Name: Some people think that this will be the iPad 2S. If you look at the two “S” updates (iPhone 3GS and 4S), they were both a limited update; only the processor was upgraded. To be honest, I’d be more confident if we were getting a case re-design. But still, my gut tells me that the “Retina Display” upgrade is enough to merit the advancement from 2 to 3.
To sum things up, there won’t be anything too exciting besides the “Retina Display” screen. The beefed up processor will be cool if you play a lot of games. But otherwise don’t expect much. Let’s be honest – Apple’s big product announcements have been lackluster since the announcement of the original iPhone. We all forget that a product launch as game-changing as that only comes around every few decades. For some reason everybody expects Apple to change the world with every product announcement. I get just as excited about their announcements, but we have to take a step back and realize that Apple will just continue to trickle out one exciting feature at a time. Check back here on March 7 for a full recap of the announcement.
P.S. 4G LTE with the iPhone 5 this fall.