Apple tacitly confirmed today that the iPad 3 won’t see its release date until after Valentine’s Day when it sent out an email blast to customers promoting the current iPad 2 as a sweetheart gift along with the current iPod touch and iPod nano models. But while today’s revelation means that you can safely buy an iPad 2 now and wrap it up for February 14th without it being discontinued before that date arrives, it won’t stay current for long. Based on its history of always introducing new iPads in the spring and usually updating its mobile product lines on a consistent twelve month-ish cycle, the iPad 3 is expected to be unveiled at a launch event in March and released for sale shortly thereafter. That leaves the issue of whether it’s better to buy your loved one an iPad 2 for Valentine’s Day or deliver an IOU for an iPad 3 when it ships in a month or two.
In terms of iPad 3 hardware specs, nothing is confirmed. Certain features have been pointed to repeatedly by insiders who claim to know and outsiders who simply hope they’re right, ranging from a higher resolution screen to a faster internal processor to a better camera. Those who saw the iPad 2 take largely the same body style (albeit thinner and lighter) than the original are also hoping for a redesigned body style to freshen things up. Apple is working on an iOS 5.1 update to its iOS 5 operating system, and it’s not yet clear whether the iPad 3 will ship with iOS 5.1 or a different variant. The success of the seven inch $199 Kindle Fire has led some to expect Apple to include a smaller, cheaper version of the iPad 3 in order to compete in that space, but others have pointed to the fact that Kindle Fire sales haven’t put a dent in iPad 2 sales as evidence that they’re simply different markets.
Whatever Apple has decided on for the iPad 3, there’s a good chance it’s already been locked into place (or will be within days) as the device must go into factory production before it’s publicly unveiled so as to have sufficient inventory on hand in time for the launch. Last year Apple struggled mightily with initial iPad 2 inventory, with only a fraction of those standing in line on day one ultimately getting to go home with one, and retail orders backlogged for several weeks at a time. Customers must hope that Apple’s iPad 3 plans include more sufficient advance inventory in preparation for the device’s release date. But with next to nothing having leaked out yet as to what all the iPad 3 will have to offer, those making a decision whether to give an iPad 2 as a Valentine’s Day gift or wait and give a belated iPad 3 will ultimately have to on blind faith. Here’s more on the iPad 3.
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