A new round of speculation puts the iPad 2 unveiling less than a week away, at a media event detailing iOS 4.3’s new features and in-app subscriptions. MacNotes.de (via AppleInsider), a German Apple blog, reports the iPad 2 could be the “one more thing” at that event, citing accessory industry sources.
It’s likely that Apple is planning some kind of press event or announcement detailing iOS 4.3 features, including Personal Hotspot, and the availability of the new subscriptions feature (or enforced requirement) for periodicals, since at the launch of iPad newspaper The Daily, Apple VP Eddy Cue basically said as much. It’s a much harder pill to swallow that Apple would unveil something as important as the iPad 2 at such an event.
Apple admittedly has a flair for the dramatic, but it also fully realizes the brand awareness value of major product announcements. To tack an iPad 2 announcement to the tail end of an iOS 4.3 event would be the opposite of media savvy. No doubt it would net headlines, but it wouldn’t have the build-up or the anticipation that would otherwise be accorded such a major product reveal. Think about timing. If Apple wanted to unveil the iPad 2 next week, it could have spent this week stealing the wind from Google’s Android Honeycomb sails. It did this anyway with the Verizon iPhone pre-sales launch, and, to a lesser extend, with The Daily. And with the iPhone 4’s general public launch set for Feb. 10, there’s no way Apple is going to compete with itself for media attention by launching the iPad 2 only a couple of days later.
While we may be seeing the equivalent of the orchestra’s discordant warm up before the house lights go down, Apple’s hype machine still has plenty of steam left to gain. And unlike last time around, Apple likely won’t give a peek behind the curtain before the show’s ready to start. The iPad was introduced on Jan. 27 2010, just over two months before its actual release on Apr. 3. There isn’t usually such a large gap between an Apple product’s unveiling and its release, but there’s a good reason Apple did this with the original iPad: There wasn’t any competition to worry about. Despite Microsoft making a big deal about tablets at CES earlier that month, when Apple unveiled the iPad, there were no competitors even close to able to go to market with a similar tablet device. Cupertino could’ve given itself six months to get the product out.
This time around, it’s a different story. There’s no longer any benefit to letting an announced iPad model sit in the minds of consumers for a couple of months before a release. Apple has the luxury of leading the industry with its current model, so an early announcement would probably dent its own sales more than that of its competitors. The iPad 2 will benefit most from an announced, dedicated event with ample build-up, followed by a quick release of the device into the hands of waiting consumers, possibly through instant pre-orders and a public release a couple of weeks down the road. What it won’t do is piggy back in on the back of a decimal point software update that few outside the tech community will be paying close attention to.
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