Talk about the iPad 2 (like the iPad 2 itself) is so boring that people are now starting to speculate about the iPad 3. Those rumors got a big shot in the arm yesterday as two prominent pundits - John Gruber of Daring Fireball and MG Siegler of TechCrunch - predicted that Apple will release a third-generation iPad in the fall. While Gruber made it clear that his guess was pure speculation
, Siegler quotes a "very good" anonymous source as saying that Apple is planning a "big fall surprise" relating to the iPad 3, and asserts that this is "not a guess
John Gruber, who has a wealth of insider contacts at Apple, wrote that he wasn't relying on any of those sources when he predicted
that Apple would switch to a late-fall release schedule. Right now, the iPad 2 is almost certainly on track for release 12 months after its predecessor first shipped in April 2010. As we all know, new iPhones ship in June or July and iPods ship in September. And while iPod refreshes are scheduled in the fall to position them for the holiday season, Gruber notes that the iPad was wildly popular last Christmas, and so his reasoning here was that it would make more sense to release new iPads in the fall to better compete for the holiday dollar. Add to that the fact that the HP TouchPad
is shipping in the summer with specs like the rumored iPad 2's, and you have a good rationale for a September release to upstage the potential challenger.
That was all well and good as a theory, but then MG Siegler at TechCrunch stepped up with a corroborating story
, attributing it to a "very good source" within Apple, that said a "big surprise" was coming in the fall regarding a third-generation iPad. Why would Apple release two new models in a year? Well, for one thing, the TechCrunch article notes, the coming second-generation iPad is really more like the iPhone 3GS was compared to the iPhone 3G: a minor update, not a complete refresh. (We've already received rumors that this will be called the iPad "S" rather than the iPad 2.) And having had the tablet market all to itself for a year, Apple's not about to lay back and let competitors move in. As Gruber suggests, "they’re not going to leave any gas in the tank pushing the iPad hardware specs forward as fast as they can." Siegler said, however, that his "information on this isn't a guess," though obviously we don't have any way of judging whether his source is any good.
Gruber also allowed that it might be possible that Apple might go to a twice-yearly upgrade schedule
, like in the early days of the PC industry, or split the product line into "consumer" and "pro" levels as they did with the MacBook. As always, this is all talk until something is actually released, and even if Apple is talking about this now, there's no guarantee that it'll happen this way come September. However, even though there's always a lot of rumor-mongering about Apple products, these particular high-profile commentators have put their credibility on the line with this, especially in Siegler's case. Either way, it looks like the next six months are going to be a wild time for the iPad and its competing tablets.
, Daring Fireball