Apple's iPad3: Should we really care?

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 The rumors are going around as they usually do right before Apple introduces a new product.  The buzz now is about the potential announcement of the third version of the iPad, presumably called the iPad3.  Should the other tablet manufacturers be worried?  Should we be excited?

The tablet competition is still trying to catch up to the initial iPad so this new version will probably set them back even more.  Given what you know about the current crop of tablets, which one would you buy?  Probably an iPad.  Apple already owns the tablet space with an estimated 80% share.  Everyone else is a distant second place.

One exception is Amazon’s recently announced Kindle Fire.  It is doing well, but for some reason my mind tells me it is a different animal.  It does not seem to be a direct iPad competitor.  Is it really a tablet or just a fancy e-book reader?  Its low price is a real attraction.  It is less than half the price of a new iPad so no wonder people are loving it.

So what should we look for in the new iPad3?  The word is that the big deal is the new higher resolution screen.  That should make our eyeballs pop out for sure. The iPhone4 screens are great. Then there is the rumor about a faster processor.  That’s probably needed to handle the new screen and all the video and games that people will access on this device.  Maybe the iPad3 will have LTE the latest 4G cellular technology.  Or will the iPhone4s Siri AI voice feature come into the iPad?  But let me ask you this, how much better will these new features make the iPad3 over the iPad2?  It seems like just another incremental improvement to keep the new products flowing and to prevent the competition from catching up.

What would drive a current iPad user to upgrade?  Or what feature would put a potential customer over the top to make a first tablet buy?  I don’t own a tablet yet and I am trying to think of what feature would push me to buy one.  I do have an older model Kindle that I still use regularly.  The mono screen is still good enough for me.  Of the many books I read during the year roughly 30% are on the Kindle.  I like it and spending $500 on an iPad to read books is just nuts. 

In fact, I just bought a new laptop.  I could have had a tablet but I chose not to.  The laptop runs Office and has a decent keyboard.  I hate typing on a touch screen.  And I can print easily unlike on a tablet. (Yes, I know there is a printing app for the iPad.)  And the laptop has multiple USB ports for USB drives and other stuff I want to plug in.  Why don’t they put USB ports on tablets?  What’s the matter with you people?  One downside to new and better technology in a mobile device is power consumption.  The new LTE smartphones have a shorter battery life than earlier models.  Hopefully the battery life in the new iPad will be comparable to the current iPad even with the improved features.

Anyway, we should know more next month if and when Apple makes its big announcement.  I wish I was more excited about this but I am not.  I am interested, of course, from a technology content point of view.  And maybe Apple will unleash something really new, different, and big that will get my attention.  Perhaps then I will be motivated to rush down to the line outside the Apple store to fight for one of the early products.  Yeah, that’ll be the day.

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Lou Frenzel

Lou Frenzel is the Communications Technology Editor for Electronic Design Magazine where he writes articles, columns, blogs, technology reports, and online material on the wireless, communications...
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