The Rumor-Mill Keeps Spinning
The next iPad will be unveiled sometime in January and launch before Summer 2011. It'll have a camera and Facetime. We know these things because Apple tends to follow the same release schedule, year-to-year, and because every other tablet in the damn world has a camera. And...that's about it for legitimate, evidence-backed leaks.
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There are these Apple camera patents though. They out an app for masking skin tones to deal with flash wash-out issues, as well as an app for fixing blurry photos and one that cuts down on the noise made by taking a picture.
These changes are likely to make it into the iPhone 5 and iPad 2 cameras. Apple was late to the game with a tablet camera. They're going to compensate by blowing every other tablet's camera out of the water. Compare the iPhone 4's camera to, say, the camera on an Evo or Galaxy S. There's no reason to believe Apple won't be head and shoulders above the competition here too.
We've also heard numerous rumors of a CDMA / GSM iPad. These 'rumors' may be more 'safe conjecture' than anything else. The iPhone is believed to be heading to Verizon soon. And we've heard that Steve Jobs has a serious crush on LTE. Adding a Verizon iPad just makes sense.
There are also rumors of a price drop or a 3rd "budget" model of iPad 2. Don't put much stock in them. A more likely result is a price drop for the original iPad. Apple has had great success in selling last-gen iPhones for $99.
A $399 or even $299 iPad would give Apple a way to compete directly with "budget" Android tablets and e-readers like the Kindle. If there's an iPad for close to the same price as a lot of dinky low-end slates, many customers will go with the proven brand.
Most of what we're hearing - especially those camera rumors - leads me to believe that the iPad 2 will only be an iterative improvement over the first-gen. We're going to see a camera (maybe two) and a couple of other minor hardware adjustments. Expect Apple's focus to be on providing a more polished and comprehensive user experience.
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Apple already controls the tablet market. They don't need to reinvent the wheel just yet. 2011 is about solidifying their hold and standing tall against the first crop of Android challengers. Apple is in a position of strength here. Now is not the time for great leaps.