Apple's iPad 2? Never mind the lack of official unveiling-for much of the blogosphere, it seems the company's next-generation tablet is already old news.
No, the new focus, however temporary, is on the iPad 3.
Many of the rumors swirling around the third-generation device seem to have started with Daring Fireball's John Gruber, who in a Feb. 9 posting detailed what he called a "theory" about its release.
Discussing the summer release of Hewlett-Packard's upcoming TouchPad tablet, he wrote: "Summer feels like a long time away. If my theory is right, they're not only going to be months behind the iPad 2, but if they slip until late summer, they might bump up against the release of the iPad 3."
Later that day, Gruber clarified his pronouncement: "My gut feeling is that Apple will move the iPad to a September release schedule, alongside the iPods." In that spirit, his "guess" was that Apple would debut the iPad 2 in March, for an early-April shipping window, and then ship the iPad 3 in September.
"How could Apple release a third-generation iPad just six months or so after the second one?" he wrote. "Maybe it won't be an actual next-generation model. Maybe it's more like an iPad 2.5, or iPad 2 Pro."
Guesswork or not, other publications seemed to take the ball and run with it. By the morning of Feb. 10, the Washington Post's headline-"iPad 3 to have Fall 2011 launch? Some say it makes sense"-was front-and-center on Google News, referencing Gruber's postings.
The iPad 3 theories contribute to what's already a white-hot furnace of speculation over everything iPad-related. On Feb. 9, the Wall Street Journal published a report suggesting that Apple had already started production on its next-generation iPad.
The company's newest tablet will be "thinner and lighter than the first model," unnamed sources apparently told the Journal, while suggesting that it would include a front-facing camera for video conferencing, more memory, and a boosted graphics processor.
Other reports have suggested that the next iPad will lack a Retina Display or similar high-resolution screen. "Our sources say Apple has requested that manufacturers begin work on displays with that resolution for the iPad 3," IDC research manager Tom Mainelli told PC World, after a DigiTimes report that the next iPad would boast a resolution of 2048 x 1536.
Apple's lack of official word on its upcoming products has a habit of driving bloggers and analysts into a frenzy. The original iPad attracted no end of speculation in the weeks ahead of its initial release, and the next version-whenever it comes out-seems to be mimicking that trend.
Editor's Note: Gruber's name was corrected from the original article.