Thursday, February 10, 2011

iPad 3 and Apple's Best Kept Secret

Yesterday HP announced its HP TouchPad (an excellent tablet, let down only by its delayed arrival to market), and Blackberry says its PlayBook arrives in March at $499, and now - even before any official announcement regarding the iPad 2 - rumors about a soon to arrive iPad 3 start making the headlines.

What would this iPad 3 have to offer regarding the soon(er) to arrive iPad 2? Some say it could be the much awaited high-resolution Retina Display; others say it might just be a smaller 5-7" version of the iPad.

... or, it can happen that it's just "say-so" to keep other companies stressed out about it!

Let's see: if there's really an iPad 3 coming soon after the iPad 2 launch; Apple risks angering its loyal customer base.
Sure, there are thousands (if not millions!) of people that wouldn't mind buying a new iPad 2 - even if they knew a new iPad 3 was right around the corner. But, there are millions more that would be quite annoyed by it, particularly after Apple got us used to its yearly product cycle.

Why would Apple do such a thing?
Well... maybe they're actually feeling the pressure by the upcoming tablets. Android Gingerbread finally starts looking like a real and decent produtc; and HP's TouchPad with WebOS *really* is something people will want - though having to wait so many months for it might ruin the "edge" it could have if it were on sale right now.

If Apple does launch an iPad 3 in September, with a Retina Display - it might give the breathing space Apple needs to revamp its iOS (which is now looking increasingly dated when compared to WebOS and others.)
Other manufacturers would need many months to come up with their extremely high-resolution screens...


Maybe this iPad 3 September launch means that Apple plans to introduce two iPad models.

A cheaper, affordable model (the upcoming iPad 2), and a newer high-end model (the hypothetical iPad 3.)

This could really be quite a thing if Apple were to play a very surprising card: offering the iPad 2 at a cheaper price than the current iPad!

Let's not forget: price was the critical factor that made the iPad the success that it was/is.
If you recall, during the iPad launch Steve Jobs first announced a $999 price that let down everyone... just to immediately slash it in half, to $499 - to everyone's relief!

Now... just imagine the same thing happening with the iPad 2... when it came to the price announcement, Apple would show a $499 price point... just to slash it again to $299 or $249!

That would really be something. It's not unfeasible... the iPad 2 would cost basically the same as the iPad 1 in manufacturing costs, as there really aren't any big changes (just updated CPU and chips, more RAM, etc. in some cases with chips combining multiple functions, that are actually cheaper.)

A lower cost iPad would really blow the competition out of the water. We all know how hard it has been for them to offer Tablets at affordable prices; and without the "millions of units" Apple sells, it's really hard for anyone to compete with "volume discounts".

At half-price, even a lower-spec'ed iPad (compared to other alternatives) would still be on top of most people preferences. And, it would also be the perfect move in order to prevent anyone buying an iPad 2 from feeling "annoyed" by an upcoming - and more expensive - iPad 3 a few months later.

I know it really sounds unlikely for Apple to actually use "cheap prices" as a selling point... But there's no doubt it would really be a very, very, amazing move for us - and completely disruptive for all other tablet manufacturers!

[based on my original article in Portuguese]

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