Apples iPad franchise might dominate the tablet market, but it nonetheless faces some significant threats in 2012.
Chief among them: Windows 8 on tablets, which could arrive sometime late in the year. Microsoft and its hardware partners will surely devote considerable marketing muscle to the upcoming operating system, creating the sort of united front that has thus far eluded the various Android manufacturers who flooded the tablet ecosystem with tablets in 2011.
What will Apple do to counter those threats and maintain its considerable market lead? Release a new iPad, of course.
According to a much-circulated AllThingsD report, the company will unveil that next-generation tablet in early March, at a high-profile event in San Francisco. No word yet on a street date for the iPad 3 (assuming thats what its called), noted the Feb. 9 report, which relied on the ever-popular unnamed sources.
Apple traditionally keeps details of its upcoming products a closely guarded secret. However, based on reports over the past few months, its safe to assume the iPad 3 will include at least a few of the following features:
High-Resolution Screen: This is the most persistent rumor, reinforced by AllThingsD, which notes that the iPad 3 could feature a 2048x1536 Retina Displayor something close to it. Such a screen would be one of the most high-profile ways Apple could advance the iPad in a way that stands out from the competition.
A Faster Processor: In a Feb. 1 posting, the Boy Genius Report suggested the iPad 3 will feature an upgraded, proprietary A6 processor. That information came from an unnamed source, which provided the blog with screenshots of output from an iPad 3 using a development and debug tool called iBoot. AllThingsD also alluded to a much faster chip paired with an improved graphics processing unit.
Camera and Battery: The Repair Labs Blog recently posted images of what it called the back housing of the iPad 3, which in turn suggests Apples next tablet will include a bigger battery and perhaps a different camera.
The presence of other featuressuch as Siri, Apples digital personal assistant which debuted with the iPhone 4Sis more open to conjecture. But based on the iPads sales history (Apple sold 15.43 million units in the last quarter alone), its not hard to surmise that the next edition in the franchise will sell well.