Why iPad 2 Is Coming and What to Expect

ipad

There’s been quite a bit of buzz around the next iPad. The one we’re using now is only six months old, but some are already looking forward to the possibility of a new form factor and a new screen size. I expect Apple to release another iPad this year. Here’s why:

Competition is non-existent for iPad right now. All the other guys have tablets shipping “end of the year,” and many more of the more formidable iPad competitors will be out in 2011. Apple’s going to do what it can to get the second revision out this year only for that one liner that Steve loves, “We’re releasing the next iPad today before our competitors have even caught up with the first generation.” He’s used that line a few times, but the iPad itself will probably look very similar to the one you’re holding in your hand right now. I predict it will have the same aluminum back, the same bezel and similar weight and the battery life will be mostly unchanged. What will be new?

New Screen Size

The rumor lately is that a 7″ model is on its way to sit right beside the current 9″ model, and due to Apple’s resolution independence and growing number of developers, a new size won’t cause many issues beyond a few optimizations that have to happen from App Store developers to make things look perfect. For the most part, Apple’s going to make sure most apps “just work.”

The new screen size will help iPad reach a lower price point for consumers and compete with the Amazon Kindle in size and price. Soon, an iPad with thousands of apps will sit along-side the Kindle nicely and make Amazon drop its price even lower to compete.

New Screen Resolution

You can be sure that Apple’s Retina Display, or something very close, will make its way to iPad. More and more iPhone 4 users are telling me that they use the iPhone over iPad because of the beautiful screen and how the iPad just feels empty and flat. This is an inevitable upgrade that is going to force us early adopters who own an iPad and iPhone 4 to jump in line. That screen is addictive and we want it.

FaceTime

Apple’s FaceTime making its way to the next generation iPod touch (via a front-facing camera) and Macs (by the way of a software update) seem like logical steps, but what about iPad? Steve’s promise of “millions of FaceTime devices by the end of the year” is starting to sound empty as we approach September, but it’s this month that we’ll see more of those “millions” of devices available to the public when new iPods and a new iPad is released.

In Apple’s latest iOS betas, you can FaceTime someone based on their email address so devices that aren’t phones (everything but iPhone) will be able to use FaceTime no problem. This is when things really start getting interesting

New Form Factor

I’m doubtful of this one but it’s worth mentioning in this post. Apple generally waits two to three refreshes before redoing the overall hardware of its devices, but a thinner iPad may be in line that mimics much of Apple’s iPhone 4. Squaring off the design would help the device lay flat, but would also make it more susceptible to scratches. I’ve long wanted an iPad bumper case to help in the event of a drop and wish Apple would move away from steel aluminum as it’s so darn slippery. This is a maybe as Apple can legitimately call this a second generation iPad without modifying the outer shell. Of course, if it’s releasing a smaller screen size, it might be a good idea to change things up a bit to throw off the competition. We’ll see.

Why iPad 2 So Soon?

Other than throwing off the competition, there are huge gaps now between iPhone and iPad from the display to FaceTime and the competition in price and size from Kindle that leads me to an iPad refresh right before the holidays as a way for Apple to blow all previous numbers out of the water and make it impossible for competition to position themselves against Apple by including any of those features in their devices. The rumored BlackPad from RIM is said to include a camera, and the Cisco tablet will be smaller than the iPad and easier to carry. A 7″ iPad with FaceTime would do the trick to put both of those products out to pasture before they even ship.

What do you think?

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Can Anyone Compete With the iPad?

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