‘Year of iPad 2’ probably means no iPad 3 in fall

Mar 3, 2011
Tech

Steve Jobs didn’t say, “We think this will be the six months of the iPad 2,” at yesterday’s Apple (AAPL) keynote in San Francisco. The Apple CEO said that 2011 will be the year of the iPad 2, and that’s kind of an important distinction, given the rumors that the iPad 2 was a sort […]

Steve Jobs didn’t say, “We think this will be the six months of the iPad 2,” at yesterday’s Apple (AAPL) keynote in San Francisco.

The Apple CEO said that 2011 will be the year of the iPad 2, and that’s kind of an important distinction, given the rumors that the iPad 2 was a sort of stepping stone toward improvement over the original iPad, and that an even-more amped-up iPad was going to show up in the fall.

A lot of rumors that have been bouncing around in the last few months fell short as Jobs announced the iPad 2. SD slot? Nope. Retina display? Non-existent. Gorilla glass? Apparently not. And that iPad 2 to iPhone 3GS analogy? It doesn’t really hold true, seeing as Apple packed in a brand new dual-core processing chip into the iPad 2. This is a model that will hold out for the next year’s content cycle.

The original iPad 3 speculation came from Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, who made some guesses and statements about the idea that the iPad 2 could be one iteration of this year’s device, with the iPad 3 having a double-resolution screen — up to 2048×1536 — and an all around stronger set of hardware than the iPad 2. That got kicked around the Internet and we reported on the idea, too.

But as Daring Fireball also pointed out, that’s a big jump in resolution. The likely reason that the iPad 2 doesn’t go up in resolution is that those numbers bring it close to a high-end monitor’s display capabilities, which costs quite a bit and will definitely have a bit impact on the iPad’s “legendary” battery performance. And Apple probably isn’t willing to go with anything but a true doubling of resolution because of what a huge impact new, goofy resolutions would have on developers making apps for the iPad — it would require a lot of things to be changed and reworked.

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I spoke with one of the Apple experts on-hand to show off the iPad 2 about changes to the display, but was told there had been no changes. The resolution question had come up earlier, and while I was asking about hardware — specifically, the ditching of the LED-backlit screen for something else. The Apple tech didn’t elaborate, so as far as I know, there have been no changes to the iPad 2’s display over the original iPad.

That leaves a little space for improvement in another device, but not much — and not nearly enough to warrant a whole new iteration, or to create a feature that Jobs and co. can sell to consumers as a significant upgrade.

Over at Apple Insider, speculation has moved away from a new iPad and toward something different — a new device that bridges the size gap between the iPhone or iPod Touch and the iPad. It would likely be aimed at games and media more specifically than the iPad, and be geared toward younger users.

Jobs has said before that he doesn’t think small tablets will work, and has publicly called out 7-inch tablets. And sure enough, the Samsung (005930.KS) Galaxy Tab and Dell (DELL) Streak haven’t been doing too well.

But then again, one of the biggest things about the iPhone and iPod Touch’s success has been the explosion in mobile gaming they have facilitated. The iPad has had a big impact on that scene, too. Apple creating a more dedicated gaming device that marries the handheld sensibilities of the iPhone with the greater screen size and power of the iPad could have an  even bigger impact on that market.

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Meantime, it seems it’s safe to say that if you buy an iPad 2 on March 11, you won’t need to be thinking about an upgrade come September.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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