You Know the Drill!
Pretty much in a repeat of last year's iPad 2 release, Apple has booked the Yerba Buena Center for some time during the first week in March to unveil to the world the iPad 3. UPDATE: Monday March 7 is the latest rumored date for the launch, while telcos are now talking about 4G models, so that seems to be a firm option.
Quite what Apple will announce is still up in the air, except for the usual trifecta of faster, thinner (possibly) and lighter (maybe). Certainly, the screen resolution will be better, the processor faster and then, perhaps, a 4G option, although for a tablet, is that really a necessity?
Duck and Cover
What we have seen recently is plenty of chat about Sharp and LG displays that can produce the Retina display levels required, if Apple has been stashing these quietly away in the factory, then it could well have something stunning to show the world.
However, with all those massive sales of iPad 2s, is the world really ready for an iPad 3? Sales of the Apple 4S were huge, but possibly because of the large numbers of iPhone 3GS owners who were due an upgrade anyway. iPads are family devices in many homes (hey, its even making it into Britain's Parliament) and with iBooks 2 out Apple may be looking for something edgier.
To really move iPad 3s, Apple needs some new mega-app to wow the crowds. Siri is still a novelty, still a beta and a work in progress, so what else could Apple bring that might jazz things up? A full-on TV app could well act as a preview for Apple TV sets while Apple's focus on content creation could also see something new appearing.
We await these new gems with more interest than the hardware itself, which, quite frankly, is just the medium for all the other cool stuff we get to play with. Personally, I'd hope that Apple (which has been hiring games-industry types in numbers recently) will have a high-level core games offering and possibly a controller (the mysterious B82 peripheral perhaps?) to challenge the console market, like Sony's new PlayStation Vita, shown off. What would you like to see Apple do on the software and apps side?
Game of Death
The games industry is ripe for the kind of disruption Apple likes to sow. Sony is in a poor state as a company and the PlayStation brand is waning. Microsoft won't be showing a new Xbox this year, leaving Apple free to play in the market with a box that can hook up to the TV or be played on the go.
We've already seen Nintendo preparing a tablet-assisted successor to the Wii console, but Apple has all the momentum, hardware power, disposable cash and drive to create something that will leave the traditional players standing. A games-focused iPad controller and store could attract both core as well as casual gamers and, if incorporated in any future Apple TV set, could flatten several markets in one fell swoop.