As the iPad 2 continues to sell well, rumors abound over when Apple will finally launch the next version of the tablet, the iPad 3. Recently, Digitimes reported thatApple will likely release the iPad 3 in the first quarter of 2012, and the device would come with a host of improvements that, given Apple’s history, should ensure that the product stays atop the tablet space for the foreseeable future.
For its part, Apple hasn’t said when it will launch the iPad 3. In fact, the company hasn’t even said that it’s working on a follow-up model to the iPad 2. But as we look ahead at the many products that will be coming to store shelves in 2012, it’s clear that waiting to launch the iPad 3 until after the first quarter of 2012 would be a huge mistake on Apple’s part. The smart move is to launch the device in the first quarter, as Digitimes’ sources have said it will.
Read on to find out why an iPad 3 would be far more successful iflaunched in the first quarter of 2012 rather than later on in the year.
1. A design refresh is in order
When the iPad 2 launched earlier this year, it came with an awfully similar design to the original iPad. Apple likely did that to keep costs down and increase margins. But with companies like Sony innovating on tablet designs,it’s time for Apple to reassert itself as the leader in that market. The sooner it does so, the better.
2. The competition is catching up
When the iPad 2 launched with a dual-core processor, dual cameras and other important features, it was leading in power. But now, devices like the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and others have surpassed it. And with more tablets featuring quad-core processors being prepared for next year, Apple better get its own high-powered option on store shelves before its current device looks obsolete in comparison.
3. The Kindle Fire is catching on
If Apple didn’t have a single competitor to worry about, it wouldn’t need to push the next iPad to store shelves. But because of the Kindle Fire’s popularity, it’s timeApple regained some of the lost spotlight and drove the point home to consumers and enterprise users alike that it’s still the top player in the tablet market.
4. Android is gaining some popularity
Last year, Android wasn’t a concern for Apple in the tablet market. Even earlier this year, the operating system was falling short. But over the last several months, thanks to devices like the Kindle Fire and Galaxy Tab 10.1, Android is starting to gain some ground on Apple. A new iPad might be able to stymie Android’s growth.
Concerns Over Pricing, Windows 8
5. Prices are a major concern
Apple sells its iPad for between $499 and $829, depending on the version. But with tablet prices falling and consumers responding to discounted options, Apple is in desperate need of a cheaper iPad. The company can provide that by launching the iPad 3 with current prices while selling the iPad 2 at a discounted rate. It works in the iPhone ecosystem; why wouldn’t it work with iPads?
6. Windows 8 is coming
Windows 8 is expected to launch late next year. And when it does, several tablets running the operating system will be available. Rather than get caught up in that wave of new tablets, Apple should launch the iPad 3 in the first quarter to avoid sharing the spotlight.
7. 4G is ready
Apple’s decision to not include 4G connectivity inthe iPad 2 was widely criticized by reviewers and industry observers. Apple, though, says it left 4G out because the networks aren’t ready and it would have caused too many design compromises. But 4G networks are now ready, and Apple needs to bring that technology to the tablet sooner rather than later.
8. Spending may slow early in 2012
With the economy still in trouble and consumers spending cash this holiday shopping season, Apple might have trouble selling a sizable number of products in the first quarter of 2012 without a new iPad on store shelves. New iPads have a tendency to get people to spend money. Apple should remember that when first-quarter sales start to fall.
9. It establishes a six-month release schedule with the iPhone
The nice thing about launching the iPad 3 in the first quarter is that it allows Apple to have two major launches-the iPhone and its tablet-spread six months apart. Therefore, it gives consumers plenty of time to pick up both devices, and it gives the company’s investors some jolts two times during the year, rather than just once. Launching the iPad 3 in the first quarter paves the way for the iPhone 5 to launch around September or October and, thus, maximize Apple’s chances of generating huge revenue and profit figures.
10. It’s what consumers expect
Apple has launched an iPad at the beginning of 2010 and 2011. To not do the same next year might be a mistake. After all, consumers who are waiting for the device might grow impatient and go elsewhere. Moreover, a delay could cause some to fear there is trouble afoot with Apple’s iPad line. Doing what consumers expect when it comes to launch dates is by no means a bad thing.