updated 07:45 pm EST, Fri February 25, 2011
Next iPad may ship immediately after March 2
Apple may surprise the industry at its March 2 event by shipping the next iPad quickly afterwards, sources said Friday night. Most have assumed the new tablet would ship in late March or April, but the company is reportedly coordinating several divisions in a way indicative of a fully shipping product, not just an announcement. AppleInsider's contacts believed that "at least one version" of the new iPad could be shipping that week, even as Apple executives stood on stage.
The immediacy would be a stark contrast with the original iPad's over two-month interval and Apple's typical practices for iPhone launches, which often take place two to three weeks after the announcement. It may have a much quicker turnaround simply because of the iPad's independence from carriers. Unlike an iPhone, which needs to be coordinated with local networks and their own retailers, an iPad just has to be shipped directly in Wi-Fi form.
Any delays might have to come for 3G versions for HSPA and EVDO, although at least the HSPA version should be unlocked and won't be tied to a specific network.
Many of the details of the future iPad have been leaked, either through cases, firmware, or unofficial sources. The unofficial consensus points to a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, 512MB of faster RAM, front and back cameras and a slimmer, lighter build. Most now don't expect an SD card slot or Mini DisplayPort, but outside rumors have raised the possibility of a carbon fiber shell that would make it much lighter than any other similarly sized tablet.
Storage, prices and other final details aren't known, but Apple is expected to cling to its $499 minimum price and may keep capacities the same if necessary.