Over the course of the last few months, we’ve heard a lot of rumors that Apple intends on releasing an updated version of the third-generation iPad later in this year to improve the device in a number of ways: namely, to fit it with better efficiency Sharp IGZO panels and give it a new, smaller 9-pin Dock Connector.
Now a new report from research firm DisplaySearch claims that a new iPad is indeed scheduled to arrive alongside the iPad mini, which will be lighter and cooler. We’re starting to think this makes sense.
According to DisplaySearch, Apple has been keeping the supply chain busy in the later half of 2012 when it comes to LCD displays, with their plans to launch the iPhone 5 and a new iPad mini. But it’s their notice on the third-gen iPad that really caught our eye:
The new iPad leads the tablet PC market with its high resolution (9.7” QXGA with 200+ ppi) and high color saturation. However, Apple is working with the LCD supply chain to refresh the display, including revising the LED backlight design for cost reduction, refining the thermal solution, reducing the weight by replacing some components, and fine tuning the panel transmittance for lower power consumption.
The question really is why Apple would revise the new iPad halfway through the generation, but I’m starting to think making these changes now makes sense.
For one thing, because Apple is using inefficient displays compared to the Sharp IGZO display panels it wants to use, the new iPad is heavier and fatter than its predecessor. That’s because it needs a massive battery to power the screen… and a battery that big is expensive.
By revising the third-gen iPad design, Apple could save in component costs, maximizing profits on the device. It could also improve battery life and charging times, while shrinking the formfactor of the device.
Still, though, redesigning a product halfway through the generation leads to added costs. Is it really worth it for Apple then? Why not wait until next year’s iPad 4?
This is just my opinion, but I think it’s possible we won’t see a new iPad in March of next year. When Apple called the third-generation iPad the “new iPad” instead of the iPad 3, they were signaling that the iPad was to be treated more like a MacBook or iMac, and there wasn’t as much room for yearly upgrades, like the iPhone. iPad updates would be mostly incremental, not major events.
If that’s true, there’s no reason to hold back improvements over the current iPad for a big media event. The iPad, like the MacBook or the iMac, is largely a stable platform, and it’s not going to be updated every year like an iPhone. There’s no reason to hold small improvements back.
I’m not willing to bet there won’t be a major iPad event next March, but if there isn’t going to be one, a revised iPad 3 later this year seems like a no-brainer. Apple has nothing to lose.