Are we going to see an iPad bump before Christmas? I think so. You can call it an iPad 1.5 if you like. As the real iPad 2 will come later in 2011.
Here is why I think this is so…
iOS “unification” is set to happen in November. What that means is that all of our iOS Devices will be running the same version of iOS from that date forwards, with swanky new features like AirPrint and AirPlay that Apple announced at their iOS 4.2 sneak peek just a short while ago.
Facetime has been around in iPhone OS for quite a while now, and hints about cameras on the iPad have been popping up from manufacturers (which we reported on last week), and also in iOS 4.2 leaks from some developers.
One of the key features of iOS is Facetime. And yet the iPad has no cameras at all. Facetime is an incredibly important technology for Apple, and is already available on every device they make, except the iPad. Despite the hooks for it on the iPad being in iOS 4.2 already.
We already know that Apple has confirmed a November release for iOS 4.2. Quite obviously they have not listed Facetime on the iPad page, as that would seriously hamper current iPad sales because many people would then simply wait for the newer iPad version to show up.
The current iPad is already considered to be weak in terms of on-board RAM. It has 256MB vs the iPhone 4′s 512MB. And the iPhone 4 is already almost half way through its life cycle.
Updating the iPad sometime next year, but putting the same CPU in it as the current iPad and iPhone 4 would be seen as a lacklustre update. It is very likely that the iPhone 5 will sport a new faster ARM SoC (and probably even more onboard RAM and Flash storage), and that same updated PCB will also go into future iPad updates, as well as iPod Touch updates later in 2011. But that new iDevice circuit board is most likely not ready for prime time yet. And unlikely to be ready until later next year either.
We have long suspected an iPad bump might come before Christmas this year. And Apple is only really in a position to bump the spec of the iPad right now. Not reinvent it with a new PCB, new GPU and new CPU.
However, Apple are overdue to bring the iPad into line with competing tablets which already have slightly more powerful CPUs, more Flash storage, more RAM, and not one but two cameras.
We already know that the iPad PCB is basically the same as the iPhone 4′s, and consequently can support the iPhone 4′s cameras. And we know too that it is all but confirmed that we will see those cameras in the next iPad update.
Holding off updating the iPad until 2011, when everybody knows that a version with a camera is coming will hurt sales of the current iPad model, which are already slightly lower than both Apple and Stock Market analysts hoped (albeit by a very small margin). That is not to say that the iPad has not sold in staggering numbers anyway. It has. But Apple will be keen to consolidate, not stagnate in the new tablet market they created.
A new iPad just before Christmas, at the same price as the current iPad, with cameras and double the RAM might upset a few early adopters. But Apple has never been worried about doing that. What it will do is destroy any advantage that Samsung hope to gain in the marketplace with their Galaxy Tab offering. And skyrocket sales for Apple at a crucial time.
I have no inside information on this. I am simply applying what I currently know, and extrapolating what I think would be an obvious and smart move for Apple at the moment.
I could be completely wrong.
What do you think? iPad 1.5 (with cameras) before Christmas? Or a slightly longer wait for a lacklustre iPad 2 update in the first quarter of 2011? Have your say in the comments…