iPad 3 Debut Could Include Low-Cost, 8GB iPad 2: Report

Add to the iPad 3 rumors a report that Apple is also planning to reveal a low-priced, 8GB iPad 2. This should help Apple beat back Windows 8-running tablets.

The Apple iPad 3, according to the latest rumors, will come in two versions, 16GB or 32GB, according to DigiTimes, which points to information from upstream supply chain sources. Less expected, the report adds that Apple€š during its scheduled March 7 event, will also introduce an 8GB version of the iPad 2, to help it "defend against Windows 8-based tablet PCs."

In a separate March 1 report, the Taipei-based DigiTimes added that Apple has lowered the price of both iPad 2 models by $50, to $450 and $550€”though as of 11 a.m. in New York, the price on the Apple site had yet to budge€”and that the 8GB iPad will retail for between $349 and $399, a price that "should place even more pressure on non-Apple tablet PC players."

Apple's tablet empire has inspired a market full of knockoffs and thoughtfully inspired designs, both categories of which have nearly all run Android. While the iPad continues to dominate, pricing has been a main determinant among non-Apple devices, with the fire sale of Hewlett-Packard's $99 TouchPad causing such a frenzy that HP was actually made to turn back on the conveyor belts and build more, in order to meet sales promises.

Over the holiday season, Amazon enjoyed significant sales with its relatively low-priced Kindle Fire€”low, at $199, relative to tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, which as of January ranged from $530 to $630, or the Motorola Xoom, which in December ranged from $530 to $730. Barnes & Noble has since lowered its Nook tablet price by $50 to $199.

Kindle tablets have been unique iPad competitors in that Amazon takes a hit on the hardware end, so confident is it in its ability to drive profits through the considerable access it offers to media content.

Microsoft, appealing to its long-time base, is expected to prove a notable competitor in its own right, with tablets running Windows 8. On Feb. 29, it offered a beta version of the OS, which is expected to arrive later this year, with features comfortably familiar to longtime Microsoft users while also offering a robust, "no compromises" user experience.

There will be a strong connection to the cloud and cloud-benefitting features, a wide variety of apps and a start screen that can switch, with a single click, between a modern layout with colorful tiles and the "old-style" desktop interface.

While Apple, as ever, remains tight-lipped about what it has in store. Analysts, the media and other unnamed sources, however, have predicted that the iPad 3 will also include a much faster processor; have the ability to operate across all carrier networks; feature an improved display, often called a Retina Display; run Siri; maintain a $500 price point and come in a 7-inch version.

Extensive analysis of Apple's invitation to its March 7 event, by a number of sites, suggests the iPad 3 may also do away with its home button and that Apple may also introduce Apple TV 3 at the event.

The teasing lines on the Apple invite: "We have something you really have to see. And touch."