So far these are the Apple (AAPL) iPad3 rumors swirling around the Internet:
- Announcement Date of March 7: Around this time seems pretty likely for the announcement, keeping in line with previous iPad announcements. March 2, 2011 = Wednesday. March 7 also a Wednesday this year. This rumor has now been confirmed.
- They may already be shipping: The iPad 2 was announced March 2 and available March 11. Maybe this time the iPad 3 will be available on or the day after the announcement. That is very possible, and even if it is available a week or so after the announcement, it is still possible that shipments are at least being readied now.
- 4x the pixels of the iPad2 (2x in both directions): After the recent announcements at MWC where the maximum resolution on a tablet was 1920x1200. At first glance it seems unlikely that nobody, not even Samsung has a super high resolution screen close to the 2048x1536 rumored for the iPad3. In fact Samsung (SSNLF.PK) stuck to 1280x800. There are two ways to look at this. Either Apple also doesn't have this screen tech, or Apple used up all available production of such a screen. It is to be noted that Apple uses a 4:3 aspect ratio while others use a 16:9 or 16:10 widescreen aspect ratio. So if Apple stuck to a horizontal resolution of 1920, the vertical would be 1440. Even at 1920x1440, Apple would have a display better than the competition.
- Quad Core processor: A lot of quad core phones and tablets were announced from LG (LGEAF.PK), HTC (HTCXF.PK), ZTE (ZTCOF.PK), Fujitsu (FJTSF.PK) and others. So a quad core processor is likely for the iPad3 to keep them in competition with other upcoming tablets. However, there are also images floating around of an A5X processor that may or may not be quad core. In any case it doesn't matter, two cores or four Apple will claim their processor is better than the rest. Plus the primary competition - Galaxy Tab doesn't have quad core yet.
- Thicker than the iPad2: If Apple really has a 2048x1536 resolution screen, more thickness is a given. Apple will naturally try to keep battery life similar to the previous generation, and that screen will suck a lot more power. And a bigger battery means more space so the tablet must be thicker. Samsung updated the batter from 4000mAh to 7000mAh from the Galaxy Tab 7 with a resolution of 1024x600 to the Galaxy Tab 10.1 2 with a resolution of 1280x800. It would be nice if Apple designed the iPad edges to look like the iPhone 4/4S, but from online rumors, it seems that the iPad 3 will be similar looking to the iPad 2.
- Siri Improvements: The existence of Siri is a given. Improvements to Siri for tablet functions is likely.
- 4G LTE: I'd say that this is extremely likely especially considering that Apple will want high resolution content delivered to this device even while on mobile networks. With Verizon and AT&T both touting 4G LTE networks and Sprint already starting on theirs, not having LTE might cause a slight disappointment to bloggers and other critics but if the iPad even has half the things in this list, it is sure to sell well.
- 8 MP Camera: Since the iPhone 4S already has an 8MP camera, it is likely that Apple will use the same one in the iPad. And leaked shots show an 8MP camera. Of course it is no 41 MegaPixel sensor, like the Nokia (NOK) 808's.
- Cheaper iPad 2: This is already happening. Retailers are discounting the iPad 2 by 50-70$ to move them faster in preparation for the iPad 3. I expect that Apple will keep the iPad 2 available at a cheaper price, just like the iPhone 4.
- 7" iPad: This one I say is very unlikely, at least for this time around. There are rumors, but none with any supporting evidence, about a smaller iPad.
If Apple manages to meet most of this list, the iPad 3 should be a big hit. If Apple manages most of the items on this list, it will leapfrog the competition in a meaningful way, because nothing announced at the Mobile World Congress seems like a serious threat to the iPad 3. Also to be noted is the fact that having great specs doesn't necessarily mean people will but the product over an iProduct. Case in point: Motorola (MMI) Xoom.
I'd like to know your opinion on what rumors will be true, so please comment. I'd say Announcement, Siri, 8MP Camera, Cheaper iPad 2 are extremely likely. Screen Resolution, Siri Improvements, 4G very likely and Quad Core is somewhat likely.
The iPad 3 and the general realization that everybody has been underestimating Apple has been leading to Apple's stock price increasing with it reaching 540 (in pre-market trading today - 2/29 - and may already have crossed that by the time this article is posted). I expect Apple's growth to continue at least for the next year, maybe two years.
The other rumor that surrounds Apple is the launch of an iTV. I recently blogged about why other manufacturers should be afraid of the Apple TV. Since then I happened to watch a commercial for Samsungs latest generation of "smart TVs" during the Oscars which featured voice activated control and browser with gesture control. I guess manufacturers are gearing up for the Apple onslaught, and maybe the Google (GOOG) TV one too.
It will be an intersting few years ahead as more items we use in our daily lives become better and smarter. I expect AAPL to outperform the broader market. I also expect Google, whose stock has been lagging, to do better. I also expect the mobile semiconductor wars to heat up as Intel (INTC) enters the market later this year with their Medfield processors.