Stay tuned for official details about the announcement, and ongoing coverage of the iPad 2. In the interim, here are five things to expect from Apple’s next big announcement.
1) The next iPad will outclass all other tablets on the market or currently in the works.
While Motorola (MMI), Samsung (005930.KS) and scores of other manufacturers are creating interesting, Android-based variations of the tablet form, no other device can capture the imagination of consumers and developers like the iPad. With more than 15 million iPads already sold, Apple created, and will long dominate, the tablet market.
Sure, other devices will invariably introduce technical enhancements, better storage, and more Google-friendly features. With tablets even more than other devices, however, it’s all about the apps. Developers, particularly those that specialize in games, are still more drawn to the iOS platform when it comes to pushing the app envelope. When News Corp. (NWS) launched its much-heralded news app The Daily earlier this month, its founding media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, said that while an Android offering will eventually be in the works, his $30 million mobile media project will be iPad-specific at least for the first year.
2) The iPad 2 will be thinner, faster and camera-ready
Apple needs to give enthusiasts who already own an iPad justification to fork over another $700, right? Reports of a lighter iPad emerged earlier this month, and Swisher and others are reporting that the iPad 2 will run on Qualcomm’s multimode chips. Now that the Verizon (VZ) iPhone is a reality, it makes sense for the iPad to run on GSM and CDMA networks. Features like a camera and Wi-Fi-based FaceTime are also no-brainers.
3) Android will be acknowledged
When Steve Jobs announced the original iPad in January 2010, it was still unclear whether the tablet form factor would be a commercial success (see above for an answer to that!). As noted, Apple remains clearly ahead of the competition. However, Google’s (GOOG) tablet-specific Honeycomb platform is winning praise from developers, and this week’s introduction of the Motorola Xoom will give Apple-baiters a compelling and serviceable tablet alternative. Either directly or indirectly, expect somebody from Apple to take a dig at the other inferior alternatives.
4) It’s unclear if Steve Jobs will be on hand
The multi-billion question for many Apple shareholders is whether Steve Jobs will make an appearance during the launch of the new iPad. Since announcing his leave of absence, Jobs did participate in a meeting between Silicon Valley big wigs and president Obama last week. He has also been seen around the Cupertino campus in recent weeks, and what better platform for an emotional return than this?
5) Expect the unexpected
Whether it’s a classic Steve Jobs “one more thing” or less sexy (but still significant) news about the iOS platform, iTunes or anything in the Apple universe, you can count on the company selling us on more things to come, now that it has our undivided attention again.