iPad 3 rumors already? Believe it. The next generation of the Apple itablet could be out in the next several months, and an iPad 3 would shake things up even more than the original did. That’s because the iPad 3 could be the final nail in the coffin for fledgling tablet competitors, and affirm Apple’s dominance.
The start of 2011 looked like the mobile and PC industries were combining forces to make sure that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) wouldn’t lock down the tablet market with its iPad in the same way it did with the iPod MP3 player.
Motorola (NYSE: MMI) announced its Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android-powered behemoth the Xoom, Samsung announced its redesigned Galaxy Tab 10.1, and Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) showed the BlackBerry Playbook to an expectant public.
All of those tablets have been released and consumers have completely ignored them. RIMM is a standout, having sold about 250,000 Playbooks since April. Apple, meanwhile, released the iPad 2 in March, a moderate upgrade of the original model that is lighter and with a slightly faster processor. The California company sold 4.5 million iPads across the first quarter, and that’s with supplies constrained by the earthquake in Japan.
For now, the tablet market really is the iPod market all over again. Apple isn’t resting on their laurels, either. The iPad 3 is coming, and while the chances are slight, there’s an outside possibility Apple will release the tablet this year.
Prior to the iPad 2’s official announcement, there were rumblings that sources inside Apple’s supply chain were hinting that the iPad 3 would release in the fall. John Gruber of Daring Fireball wrote on Feb. 9 that Apple superior tablet would come in time to take the wind out of the Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) tablet, the HP Touchpad. Since then, however, outlets like Taiwan’s DigiTimes have suggested that the iPad 2 is selling briskly enough that Apple will wait until early 2012 to release the iPad 3.
The new device is expected to sport a 3-D screen that doesn’t require special glasses, similar to Nintendo‘s (Pink Sheets: NTDOY) 3DS portable gaming machine. Other reports have suggested that Apple is developing a new LCD screen for the tablet that would offer a high-resolution image quality akin to the most recent iPhone model’s Retina Display.
It will likely use a custom processor like the Samsung-manufactured A5 CPU in the iPad 2, albeit one that is built to make the iPad 3 twice as fast as the current model.
Regardless of the device’s final specifications and release date, investors can be guaranteed of this: When the iPad 3 comes out, Apple will still control a majority of the tablet market.