Less is More
We've heard a lot of iPad 2 predictions over the last few weeks. Everything from world iPads to retinal displays and 128 GB hard drives. There were even rumors of a 7" iPad 2, before Steve Jobs himself chimed in to kill them.
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There are only two things that most of the rumors agree on. The iPad 2 will get a camera (possibly dual cameras) and it will be out early next year. The announcement should come shortly after CES 2011, while the iPad 2 itself will sometime around April. That is taking the (safe) assumption that the iPad 2 launch will mirror the iPad launch.
Brian Marshall, an analyst with Gleacher & Co., does not think that the iPad two will be a major upgrade. These rumors of more storage, faster processors and fancy new displays only make sense if you ignore the way Apple works. The iPad 2 will be very similar to the current iPad, just with dual-camera functionality.
We'll also probably see some minor cosmetic change, and maybe slightly modified internals. But the iPad 2 won't be a huge change. Think the iPhone's shift from 3G to 3GS, rather than the move from 2G to 3G or 3GS to 4G.
The truth is that the iPad doesn't really need a big change. It's selling like gangbusters as is, and even a generation of dual-core Android devices won't change that. Sure, 2011's tablets will be faster, but will they seem faster than an iPad to the user? Most of those Android tablets will have glitchy, manufacturer-specific UIs like Sense on them. And none of them will have the Apple sense of style.
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LTE iPhones are expected to launch in 2011, and I don't think it's outside the realm of possibility to look for an LTE iPad. Still, next April might be too early to see such a device ready for launch. The first 4G iPad will probably hit in 2012. If that's the case, I'd expect the iPad 3 to be the first iPad to see a major form redesign, ala the iPhone 4.