iPad 3 Expectations & Tablet Market 2012

A new iPad from Apple is expected in the next months. What does it mean for you?

What happened last year?

As in 2010, the iPad 2 completely dominated the tablet market in 2011. Quite a few big players tried to launch alternatives, and failed miserably, HP and RIM certainly were the prime examples. Both had to dump their tablets well below manufacturing costs in the end, and IMO neither of them will reenter this market – eventually HP might come back with an Microsoft OS.

A success worth noting was Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which was planned with a price that barely covers costs, if at all. However, it’s literally half the screen area of the iPad, and not even remotely close in usability, performance and versatility. Nonetheless, Amazon shipped a few millions, and they can deliver content for them, and IMO they will firmly grasp the low end of the tablet market. There is little breathing room for other small Android tablets right now.

Samsung shipped a few Galaxy Tabs, too, though no numbers are published. There are quite a number of models with little consistency. As with Android phones, one major issue is getting software updates, and from a development perspective, software development, testing and distribution is still a nightmare. Nonetheless, this is the only remaining competition Apple is concerned about right now.

iPad 3 – What to expect and when?

It’s about time, and it will get a Retina display – the screen will have double resolution compared to the iPad 2, which means 4 times the pixels. There is no rose without thorns: More pixels mean that it needs a much stronger processor, and therefore consumes more energy. As Apple will do a lot to keep it’s market leading battery time, it will need a bigger battery. So the display will be gorgeous, yet I expect the iPad 3 to become thicker than the iPad 2, and maybe even a tad heavier.

I assume that the entry price is going likely to get up here in Europe, likely by about 100€. After all, the € has been weaker than a year ago, and Apple will need to adjust the pricing. I expect the entry model at 599€, eventually equipped with 32 GB to make it look better.

As Apple is running a big Valentine day promotion for the iPad 2, it’s highly unlikely that the announcement will happen before March. Apple is doing great to work around buyers remorse. Availability in Europe? I wouldn’t bet on anything before May. No matter how much they produce in advance, availability will be limited – a lot of people are waiting for it.

What will happen to the iPad 2 then?

iPad 2 production is running without hiccups, and there is no sign that it stops.

I expect Apple to do the exact same as in the iPhone Market: The iPad 2 becomes the entry level model, closing the gap between the Kindle and the iPad 3. Its price will drop to 349€ or even lower, which will make it very hard for Samsung & Co to earn money with a competing tablet.

For many applications the iPad 2 will do just fine. It will approach new users and new industry scenarios, and will continue to run the most recent software for quite a while.

What about a 7″ Apple iPad nano?

Won’t happen soon IMO. A 7″ screen is too small for convenient web surfing, and there are few transport scenarios where it really is easier to carry, while an iPhone won’t do. To compete, an iPad nano would also need a price point of around 199-249$/€, and I doubt that Apple would like that.

I’d rather see a market for an iPhone nano ツ

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