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Here's your iPad 3 rumour round-up ahead of Apple's expected unveiling

Will this evening’s Apple event reveal the next iPad?

Image: AP Photo/Paul Sakuma/PA Images

APPLE HAS HINTED that it may reveal its latest iPad model at an event getting underway in San Francisco this evening.

Rumours have suggested an updated tablet with a speedier processor, a sharper screen and an option for faster wireless broadband access.

One big unknown is whether Apple will keep the iPad 2 in production and offer it at a lower price, like it kept the iPhone 3GS after the launch of the iPhone 4. The upgrade from the iPad 2 to the iPad 3 will be less significant than the upgrade from the original iPad to the iPad 2, which added two cameras while cutting both the thickness and the weight of the device.

Another big question is whether Apple will reveal its rumoured foray into making TV sets. Some have speculated that the invite to the Apple event, which said “We have something you really have to see,” points in that direction.

These are some rumoured features of the iPad 3:

  • A sharper screen, similar to the “Retina Display” on the iPhone 4 and 4s. The rumored resolution is 2048 by 1536 pixels, which would make text look smoother and some high-resolution pictures look better. It won’t make much of a difference for images on the Web, or video.
  • Some speculate that Apple will call the model the “iPad HD,” for “high definition,” rather than “iPad 3.”
  • The new iPad could include Siri, the voice-activated “assistant” found on the iPhone 4S. Siri has gotten mixed reviews, but Apple has been touting the feature heavily in its advertising, and it would make sense to expand the availability of this high-profile feature.
  • Faster wireless capabilities. The iPad 3 could come in a version that offers faster “4G” or “LTE” networks. However, most iPads are used only on Wi-Fi, so an “LTE” chip wouldn’t matter to most buyers. (In this respect, Apple is playing catch-up. Some competitors, such as Samsung and Motorola, already sell LTE-compatible tablets.)
  • A faster processor. This is pretty much a given, since every new iPhone or iPad has improved on the computing power of its predecessor. But few users complain about their iPads being slow, so this should not be a major selling point.
  • If last year’s launch of the iPad 2 is any guide, the new iPad model could go on sale in the US as soon as next week.

The iPad launch comes as Apple has reached a rare milestone: last week, it was worth more than $500 billion. Only six other US companies have been worth that much, and none have held that valuation for long. Yesterday, Apple’s stock fell, bringing its market value down to $493 billion, but analysts believe the company is worth closer to $550 billion.

Priorities

Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst for Forrester Research, said hardware features aren’t that important to tablet buyers.

“It’s about the services — what you can do with the device,” she said in a blog post.

Apple’s competitors have slowly come to realise this, but only after bringing out dozens of tablets with whiz-bang features like 3-D cameras. The competitor that’s done the best is Amazon.com Inc. Its Kindle Fire tablet is cheaper than the iPad, but what really sets it apart is that it’s tied into Amazon’s book, movie and music stores, making it an easy route to entertainment, just like the iPad.

Still the Kindle Fire has a long way to go. Epps estimates that Amazon sold 5.5 million Kindle Fires in the fourth quarter of last year. Meanwhile, Apple sold 15.4 million iPads, and has sold 55.3 million in total.

According to Canaccord Genuity, 63 per cent of the tablets shipped last year were iPads. The only competitors with more than 5 per cent market share were Amazon and Samsung Electronics Co.

About the author:

Associated Press

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