New iPad Expected to be Revealed Today

Student uses an iPadApple is holding an event Wednesday in San
Francisco, and has hinted that it will reveal a new iPad model. Rumors
speak of an updated tablet with a speedier processor, a sharper screen
and an option for faster wireless broadband access.

Pictured: In
this Jan. 17, 2012 photo, Grant Beacon Middle School student, Jeriah
Garcia, 13-years-old, works out an algebra problem on his
school-supplied iPad in class at Grant, Colo.
(AP Photo/The Denver Post, Andy Cross, File)

If last year’s launch of the iPad 2 is any guide, the new iPad model will go on sale in the U.S. next week, likely on Friday.

upgrade from the iPad 2 to the iPad 3 will be less significant than the
upgrade from the original iPad to the iPad 2, which added two cameras
while cutting both the thickness and the weight of the device.

big unknown is whether Apple will keep the iPad 2 in production and
offer it at a lower price, like it kept the iPhone 3GS after the launch
of the iPhone 4.

Another big question is
whether Apple will reveal its rumored foray into making TV sets. Some
have speculated that the invite to the Apple event, which said “We have
something you really have to see,” points in that direction.

already sells and “Apple TV.” It’s not a TV, but a small box that
attaches to a television set to display movies and play music from

The iPad launch comes as Apple has
reached a rare milestone: Last week, it was worth more than $500
billion. Only six other U.S. companies have been worth that much, and
none have held that valuation for long. On Tuesday, Apple’s stock fell,
bringing its market value down to $493 billion, but analysts believe the
company is worth closer to $550 billion.

These are some rumored features of the iPad 3:

A sharper screen, similar to the “Retina Display” on the iPhone 4 and
4s. The rumored resolution is 2048 by 1536 pixels, which would make text
look smoother and some high-resolution pictures look better. It won’t
make much of a difference for images on the Web, or video.

Some speculate that Apple will call the model the “iPad HD,” for “high definition,” rather than “iPad 3.”

The new iPad could include Siri, the voice-activated “assistant” found
on the iPhone 4S. Siri has gotten mixed reviews, but Apple has been
touting the feature heavily in its advertising, and it would make sense
to expand the availability of this high-profile feature.

Faster wireless capabilities. IPads are available with built-in modems
for AT&T’s and Verizon’s third-generation, or “3G” cellular networks
in the U.S. The iPad 3 could come in a version that offers faster “4G”
or “LTE” networks. However, most iPads are used only on Wi-Fi, so an
“LTE” chip wouldn’t matter to most buyers.

In this respect, Apple is playing catch-up. Some competitors, such as Samsung and Motorola, already sell LTE-compatible tablets.

last fall, Sprint Nextel Corp. has sold the iPhone. But it doesn’t sell
the iPad. It’s possible it could join AT&T and Verizon Wireless in
selling the iPad 3.

– A faster processor. This
is pretty much a given, since every new iPhone or iPad has improved on
the computing power of its predecessor. But few users complain about
their iPads being slow, so this should not be a major selling point.

Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst for Forrester Research, said hardware features aren’t that important to tablet buyers.

“It’s about the services – what you can do with the device,” she said in a blog post.

competitors have slowly come to realize this, but only after bringing
out dozens of tablets with whiz-bang features like 3-D cameras. The
competitor that’s done the best is Inc. Its Kindle Fire
tablet is cheaper than the iPad, but what really sets it apart is that
it’s tied into Amazon’s book, movie and music stores, making it an easy
route to entertainment, just like the iPad.

the Kindle Fire has a long way to go. Epps estimates that Amazon sold
5.5 million Kindle Fires in the fourth quarter of last year. Meanwhile,
Apple sold 15.4 million iPads, and has sold 55.3 million in total.

to Canaccord Genuity, 63 percent of the tablets shipped last year were
iPads. The only competitors with more than 5 percent market share were
Amazon and Samsung Electronics Co.