Apple's iPad 3 (HD) launch: 6 things to watch

Apple's iPad 3 (HD) launch: 6 things to watch

Summary: LTE, battery life and market segmentation are a few items worth watching as Apple launches its next-generation iPad on Wednesday.

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Apple launches its third generation iPad on Wednesday and the rumor mill has been in overdrive. If various supply chain checks and various reports are correct the next iPad will have a retina display, feature 4G and represent a significant upgrade for Apple.

Here are the six things to watch:

4G LTE: Although there are other tablets with LTE, Apple dominates the tablet market so a 4G iPad is significant. Apple is likely to bring a bevy of new users to Verizon's LTE network as well as fledgling 4G services from AT&T. LTE on the iPad---and likely next iPhone---will highlight how faster mobile broadband alters behavior. An LTE iPad may also be better suited for business use in the field.

Battery life: The one tricky aspect with LTE service has been battery life. Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu argues that Apple may have cracked the 4G battery life code. Wu said:

We view the potential inclusion of 4G LTE as key with speeds approaching that of a quality personal computer experience. We also view as a positive indicator that the upcoming iPhone refresh in the fall timeframe will likely include this key feature as well. Our industry checks indicate Apple has made notable progress in improving battery life that has plagued competitors. This is due to Apple's ownership of core intellectual property including systems design, semiconductors, battery chemistry, and software.

Price points: It has been rumored that the iPad 2 is sticking around at a lower price point. This move wouldn't be surprising. Apple has a similar set-up with the iPhone (4S, 4, 3GS). A lower-priced iPad is likely to be a threat to Android tablets, which haven't gained traction, and Amazon's Kindle Fire.

CNETIs this what the iPad 3 will look like?Will the iPad 3 really cost more?iPads with iOS 6 appear in Web traffic logsCould hi-res iPad apps hit download limits?

Will the high-resolution display matter? It is widely expected that the next-gen iPad will have a high-resolution screen, faster graphics and processor. The big question is whether this screen will really be a selling point to consumers. Yes, it's the latest and greatest iPad, but the installed base for Apple is already large. An HD screen may not encourage upgrades.

Can Apple meet supply? Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster noted that the company should be able to avoid the supply issues of previous iPad launches. He said:

Apple may ship the iPad HD in mid-to-late March, with launch sales impacting the Mar-12 quarter. This scenario would follow the pattern of iPad 2 in 2011 very closely (iPad 2 announced 3/2/11, shipped in the US on 3/11 and 25 more countries on 3/25). However, we believe Apple has a clearer picture of iPad demand with another year of sales under its belt, which should help supply. Note that iPad 2 was supply constrained throughout the Mar-11 quarter, with month-long lead times at Apple's online store.

Will the iPad replace the personal computer? The next-gen iPad is likely to feature a better processor, graphics and screen. Add it up and the iPad could increasingly look like a laptop replacement. That nugget to watch will play out in the months and years to come.

Related:

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Tablets, Wi-Fi

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139 comments
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  • Tell you what why don't we all just wait and see?

    In the end it's the only smart thing to do regardless of your opinion about Apple and it's products.

    Pagan jim
    James Quinn
    • Wait and See?

      I predict that you are correct.
      richardw66
    • De Ja Vu

      Happens every single launch and in general the "predictors" are wrong.

      Wake me on event day......

      Zzzzz...........
      rhonin
  • "Will the iPad replace the personal computer?"

    Here's the thing. The iPad will not replace the personal computer for high-end computing tasks.

    It will however sell to a market of people that were sold personal computers when they didn't need them. People who want to talk to relatives abroad, do some email, Facebook and casual gaming.

    That in and of itself is a huge market.
    jgpmolloy
    • Don't see it either.

      Biggest thing I'm not seeing for the iPad 3 -- or any other tablet -- to make it a true laptop/desktop replacement:

      [b]No DVD drive[/b].

      Without that, it's just an oversized smartphone, which I neither have nor need.
      spdragoo@...
      • Really?

        I have no need of a DVD drive in a portable device any more.

        Maybe 10 years ago I might have made use of a portable DVD drive. Now it is so eaasy to sync HD movies to my iPad that I wouldn't wast my time with SD DVD content.

        I carry a heap of video on my iPad in HD.
        richardw66
      • Mac Mini?

        They don't have a DVD drive either. With more and more things going to the cloud, you don't really need one. Want to watch a movie...you have Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Prime. Want to load a program...you have the App Store/Market. Want your data...you have Dropbox, iCloud, and a whole slew of other things. What do you really need a DVD drive for then?
        ExploreMN
      • eh

        I don't believe lack of an optical slot is a deal breaker for laptop/desktop replacement. I love my DVD drive, but it's hardly a critical component of my laptops. I very rarely use it these days and on the laptops that lack one an external drive works fine.

        What's missing is better interoperability with external storage of any type especially flash memory, and a better UI and form factor for typing. Display size is also horrible by comparison. I would never want to work with a <13" display all day long. Those three alone make tablets a poor laptop replacement for all but the most simple of tasks.
        josephmartins
      • Yes, really

        @richardw66

        If I'm going to look for a [b]tablet[/b] PC to replace a [b]laptop[/b] PC, let alone a [b]desktop[/b] PC, then it has to be able to perform [b]every[/b] function that the other devices can.

        Since one of my necessary functions is the ability to read the various CDs & DVDs I have -- music, movies, software, & games -- that I have, then a tablet without a disc drive is incapable of replacing said devices.

        Now, as for your personal uses, maybe anything recent I can see you having bought a digital download instead of a physical disc. But unless you [b]never[/b] bought music CDs or movie DVDs in the past (i.e before online stores), I daresay that you've either used your home desktop/laptop computer to copy the music/movies/other software onto your tablet... or you paid [b]twice[/b] for it: once from the brick-and-mortar store, and once for a digital download of something you already had on physical media.
        spdragoo@...
      • Surely you jest.

        With 16gb flash drives readily available, the deal breaker for you is no DVD drive? Seriously? I guess the fact that it has no floppy drive is a real downer for you too, then!
        plawler
      • Just buy a DVD player

        spdragon
        A good DVD player connected to your TV could meet your DVD needs.

        Maybe the word 'companion' would be a better word than 'replacement'. When you look at it that way, it would be an ideal companion... which gets more usage than the computer with the DVD drive built-in.
        camcost@...
      • Way to focus on the unimportant

        "Without (a DVD drive), (an iPad is) just an oversized smartphone"-spdragoo

        The MacBook Air doesn't have a DVD drive and no future Mac is going to have one? Are they just oversized smart phones too?

        No, no! Please don't answer! It was just a rhetorical question.
        Falkirk
    • Here's the thing. Most people don't perform high-end computing tasks.

      You seem to imply that only those who use computers for casual home-based uses would be a customer of a tablet. The truth is most PEOPLE...business and home...don't use a modern day computer for more than word processing, photo viewing, web surfing, a few other things that don't require massive processors/memory/drive space, and casual gaming. In other words, get a good keyboard type doc for in the office/home for when you need to leverage that, and a tablet (not just the iPad) could easily replace a PC for many many people.
      ExploreMN
      • What's the definition of "casual gaming"?

        Are we talking about time spent playing games... or the games themselves?

        Personally, very little of my time is spent playing games. At most I might see maybe a few hours of game time in a given week, maybe less.

        But... when I'm playing games, I'm not playing [i]Angry Birds[/i] or [i]Plants vs. Zombies[/i]. I'm playing [i]Civilization 3[/i], [i]Age of Empires 2[/i], [i]Starcraft[/i], [i]Combat Flight Simulator 2[/i], [i]SWAT 4[/i] & other similar games. In other words, games that you [b]can't[/b] play on a tablet.

        So no, tablets aren't always able to meet "casual gaming" requirements.

        As for word processing... I think you're making a big assumption in implying that "casual" word processing is no different than texting. Someone using a word processing program is most likely writing a fairly large-sized document; that's a lot of typing to do with a non-ergonomic on-screen "virtual" keyboard. Not to mention that a lot of times they'll be referring back & forth to another document that's either saved on their PC or on a website in their browser. Has there been some sort of upgrade to tablet PC operating systems that allows you to have both your word processing document and a 2nd reference document onscreen simultaneously (i.e. that doesn't require you to keep switching between 2 separate apps)? If not, then "casual" word processing isn't any easier -- and in fact would be more difficult -- on a tablet vs. other PCs.
        spdragoo@...
      • Agreed

        Most people reading this article will have the opinion that tablets will never replace PCs/Laptops. That's because all of them are involved in technology and hate the thought of working on anything less than a quad core 3 gazillion hertz processor with infinite resolution monitors and a minimum of 40 exabytes. Okay, maybe we all dream of this but the point is the average user doesn't care about the speed of the processor or the HD capacity or the screen resolution. They want something to just work and get those few tasks done that they bought it for in the first place.
        rpollard@...
      • @spdragoo "Casual Gaming"

        Just because they're not available for a tablet doesn't mean it's impossible for those games to be played on one. CFS2 already has a rough equivalent in a game called MetalStorm for the iPhone/iPad. Civ 3, AoE 2, Starcraft, etc... are not all that processor intensive and would probably be quite playable on a tablet--though admittedly the screen might be a little small. Even MMOGs like World of Warcraft, City of Heros and others are possible, though not necessarily as graphics-pretty as the current desktop versions. And that's the point: what you say are impossible are not impossible at all, though they may be somewhat limited. Civ 3 ran on much poorer hardware than what is available on the desktop today--we're up to Civ V now. The games that are going to have trouble are the graphics-intensive real-time shooters and even those have rough equivalents already on the tablet. A little more time and I think we'll see those tablets serving as at least part of an overall gaming experience.
        Vulpinemac
      • And what if we don't want a "close equivalent"?

        The old "Birds of Prey" game I had from Electronics Arts years ago was a "close equivalent" to Microsoft's CFS series...except that:

        -- it was designed for Windows 3.1, so it came on a floppy disk
        -- it wouldn't run on XP very well (even in Compatibility Mode, the program ran too fast, apparently due to basing the timing on processor cycles vs. the onboard clock)
        -- flying was even tougher than on the CFS series

        Not to mention that, if I already have a game that I love, why should buying a new PC force me to find a "close equivalent' of it, when I can purchase another new PC that lets me the [b]exact[/b] game that I want? Not to mention that I can substitute the words "software application" for "game" & still have a statement that a large number of computer users will always consider when buying -- possibly even the majority of users out there.
        spdragoo@...
      • Reading comprehension

        The point is that the tablet has the graphical power to handle the games; it's up to the developers to port them. Just because they're not there doesn't mean they can't be.
        Vulpinemac
    • Don't have a Mac Mini, probably won't ever get one, either.

      @ExploreMN

      As yet, I haven't seen Firefly available on Netflix... but I have my own box set of it. Would be kind of hard to watch it "online" if it's not there... and why should I pay for a [b]second[/b] digital-only copy when I already have the discs?

      The problem with depending on Netflix -- or anly online VOD provider (HBO, Showtime, cable company, etc.), is that their movie/TV show libraries are [b]not[/b] static. Case in point: just last weekend I watched [i]Psycho II[/i] on Netflix, & had [i]Psycho III[/i] in my queue. This weekend, however, neither one was there -- II was not in my "Recently Watched" section, and III was no longer in the "Instant Queue". It doesn't mean that the movies don't exist somewhere in the universe; they're just not available on Netflix right now. But, had I been on a trip somewhere, and [b]really[/b] wanted to watch that particular movie on Netflix, I would have been disappointed because it wasn't available. More importantly, though, until it comes back onto Netflix, my only option is to rent a physical disc from a brick-and-mortar store or the local library...because I have 2 DVD players (1 per TV) and a desktop PC with built-in DVD drive available to watch it. Were I dependent upon a tablet PC -- or a laptop that lacked a DVD drive -- I would have [b]zero[/b] options for watching that movie.

      Same with other movies like the [i]Pirates of the Caribbean[/i] series, or [i]Mr. and Mrs. Smith[/i], the new [i]Star Trek[/i], & a host of other movies: because I have physical discs at home, not only am I not solely dependent on a streaming provider for entertainment (or even digital-only downloads that would be limited to my PC's monitor), but I have much more flexibility in my viewing selections. I can watch Netflix on my TV (via Wii) or on my desktop; I can watch DVDs on my PC, on my living room TV (via DVD player), or in the comfort of the bedroom on a 2nd TV (again via DVD player). I can even let my family borrow my DVDs if they want to watch it... or borrow one of their DVDs if it's something that I don't have. Can't exactly borrow a digital download, at least without also "borrowing" their device (which they'll probably need for other purposes).
      spdragoo@...
      • Excellent argument, just not pertinent here

        You make a good argument for the fact that VOD is not mature. However, that barely pertains to the tablet vs. laptop debate framed here.

        For myself, I digitize my movies in advance, and store em on my local network. That way I can view them on any networked device in my house including tablets. Oh, wait - most people use Windows or Mac, so they can't copy their own DVDs.
        dimonic