Although pointedly explaining that he has no direct knowledge of such a move, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber has just posted a fascinating piece speculating that 2011 might not just see the release of the iPad 2, but the iPad 3 as well.
The whole post is worth a read, but here’s the summary of Gruber’s argument. Apple has so far stuck loyally to a yearly upgrade cycle for its entire iOS line. Right now, that means iPads in March or April, iPhones in June and iPod Touches in September.
The problem is, April isn’t really all that great a month to release new iPads, because it puts Christmas more than six months after the release of the last model. This leads to whispers during the important holiday sale seasons that people should wait, while simultaneously adding another milestone to the iOS release schedule.
Gruber thinks that this means that Apple will eventually move the iPad to a September release, merging the annual iPod event with the release of the new iPad.
However, in 2011, Apple won’t have a choice but release the iPad 2 in March or April, because the competition is mounting: Motorola, RIM and HP all have impressive tablets due out this summer. Apple can’t afford to give these guys any leeway: the competition in the tablet market is going to be fierce.
Gruber’s speculation, then, is that Apple will release the iPad 2 in April… and then release the third-gen iPad in September. This third-gen iPad wouldn’t be an entirely new product, but rather be to the iPad 2 what the iPhone 3GS was to the iPhone 3G. Then the next iPad wouldn’t be released until September 2012.
It’s an interesting theory. I tend not to believe it — it seems a little convoluted — but Gruber’s reasoning makes sense. What do you guys think?