Crystal Ball – Apple’s March 2012 event

With the apparent upcoming apple event on March 7th centering around the new iPad (Update: it’s official), I figure it’s about time to put in my official predictions for the event.  There has been a lot of speculation with what will be released at this event.  Will there be an LTE iPad, or will it just be a speed bump release?  Would an LTE iPad cause Apple to announce but not release anything for purchase?  Or will Apple have something else to hold people over till they can purchase the new iPad, perhaps the AppleTV?  Read on.


It is pretty much a given that there will be a new iPad shown off at this event. But what do I think might actually come out with? And when?

Physical Look & Price
The iPad 3 (or iPad HD, or whatever they call it) will look almost identical to the current iPad.  It probably will be slightly thicker (less than a mm) and with that have a little more of a tapered edge to accommodate.  It will weigh approximately the same, and with a  quick glance you won’t be able to tell the difference between the iPad 2 and this new model.  That old adege: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The price of the iPad 3 will stay the same as those price points seem to be working.  So look for iPads ranging form $499 up to the $829 for the cell 64GB version.

Wireless & Carriers – LTE?
This new iPad will have a single model for all the major carriers out there.  So much like Apple did with the iPad 2, 1 chip to rule them all.   The big question here is will it have 4G LTE.  I am leaning on the positive side of this equation.  Although coverage isn’t global yet, the smaller number of cellular iPads would serve as a good proving ground for any technology that Apple might need to use to get into this new spectrum.  It’s a good guess that the next iPhone will have LTE, so this smaller role out would help them quite a bit.  The only downside to this is with a new radio chip would require a new approval from the FCC.  Which would push the roll out back a month or two.  But more on that later.

Hardware specs
There is little doubt that the new iPad will be stronger, faster, and more powerful than the iPads that have come before it. It most likely will have a next generation chip (A6, since the last one was a A5), possibly clocking in about 1.25 Ghz. My personal bet is that it will not be a quad core chip set, although if they do have it I would see it just in the higher end model. The camera will get a boost to be closer to what the iPhone 4 (Not 4S) has.  RAM probably will be bumped up to 1GB form the 512 it currently is at.  It will also mostly likely need a beefier graphics chip.  The battery power itself will most likely be more powerful…. but I don’t believe this will come with additional battery life.  The extra features will use up more power, so the additional juice will be needed to compensate for this.  We will probably see the same HD sizes.  Also a good bet is the iPad having the new sound reduction chip that the iPhone 4S has to make use of Siri.

There’s a couple of different things that have been going around about the iPads screen: resolution and size.

From the parts that have been floating around and just general iOS bits of information it does indeed appear that the new iPad will have a higher resolution screen probably 2048×1536, which is exactly twice the current iPad’s resolution of 1024×768. This will make scaling of apps much easier for those not optimized for the new retina screen. The hire resolution will also help out the new iBook textbooks, as well as the higher res videos Apple has been asking movie studios to submit to the iTunes store.  This all points to a retina screen coming to the iPad.

The second big screen issue that has been floating around is a smaller screen size.  Although with the inclusion of a retina version of the iPad, it might make sense to release a smaller iPad at the same resolution (1024×768)… the iPad’s wow factor comes from the physical size of the screen.  Apple has been rumored to be showing off a possible 8″ size, but this wouldn’t mean a imminent release of a smaller form factor, as they try out numerous options before deciding on anything.  It seems there more in the figuring things out phase than realistically releasing anything.  The release of the Kindle Fire this holiday season has seen great sales, but the low cost, seem to be more a driving people picking it up instead of the size.  It also appears that sales have been more cannibalizing other Android tablets than taking a sizable chunk from Apple.

Older models
I’m fairly certain that Apple will address this lower cost issue much the same way that they did so with the iPhone.  The iPad 2 will still be available at a price point starting around $250 -$300.  They’ll probably have just 2 models, one wifi only and one 3G.  The Kindle fire comes in at $200, so the slightly higher price point will make sense for a larger screen and entice many to think it’s not that much more to satisfy their iPad wants.


So what to do with Apple consumers having to wait a month or two before they can get on new hardware?  Well this would be the perfect time to release the new AppleTV.  With the recent models being pulled from the shelves at most of the retailers (Apple is the only place you can get it at the moment), it definitely seems a refresh is imminent.  Having the AppleTV be the “One more thing” would definitely bring back that old Apple feeling.  Been told about all this cool hardware, but can’t get your fingers on it?  Here’s something new for you that you can.  But what will that refresh mean?

What will it be?
I beleive the AppleTV will be similar in appearance to what we have now, just slightly larger. I see it as a gateway for all the devices you currently have.  It would be reasonable for it to have two HDMI ports.  One for your current Cable TV box in, and one to be sent out to your TV or Video Hub.  It would be great if Apple could negotiate a way for individual cable channels to be on the device itself, sort of ala cart, but more likely these channels are still afraid of losing coverage with the current monopolies out there.  By having it act as a gateway, possibly even controlling the cable boxes via HDMI.  From the HDMI FAQ:

Lastly, because of the two-way communication capabilities of HDMI, components that are connected via HDMI constantly talk to each other in the background, exchanging key profile information so that content is sent in the best format without the user having to scroll through set-up menus. The HDMI specification also includes the option for manufacturers to include CEC functionality (Consumer Electronics Control), a set of commands that utilizes HDMI’s two- way communication to allow for single remote control of any CEC-enabled devices connected with HDMI. For example, CEC includes one-touch play, so that one touch of play on the DVD will trigger the necessary commands over HDMI for the entire system to power on and auto-configure itself to respond to the command. CEC has a variety of common commands as part of its command set, and manufacturers who implement CEC must do so in a way that ensures that these common command sets interoperate amongst all devices, regardless of manufacturer.

This could be a way, if done right, to completely replace the cable companies, pushing them back just to deliver content, while Apple controls the user experience.  And add to that all the content Apple can provide on top of that (netflix, youtube, icloud photos, etc) Apple could slowly work it’s way into the Cable industry before they realize they’ve already lost the identify of TV.

Also by controlling the interface of the TV, they solve two problems.  Apple wants to be Input 1 on the TV.  So the default use of the TV will be Apple.  By getting between the TV and the cable box you accomplish this.  Want TV?  Apple tv controlling the box.  Want your Apple content… same spot.  No need to switch multiple devices to handle it.  The second is that they wouldnt’ need to sell TVs to get the same experience.  Don’t worry about what the TV has on it, the Apple TV is your gateway for everything.

Perhaps a bit out there in terms of a prediction, but it all makes sense and would put Apple ahead of the curve, or perhaps even creating the curve.

What’s this gonna cost me?
I think it will stay in the $99-$149 price range.  That seems to be the sweet spot.  if they can keep it at $99, even at lower revenue I think they will do it. I can’t see them selling the older model, as it would cause confusion in the market.  there might be a non-HDMI version at a lower price point that has component instead of HDMI… but still might be confusing and wouldn’t have the gateway functionality.

But what about an actual physical large AppleTV screen?
I personally still can’t get behind this. I can’t see the Apple Stores turning into a show case for 40″-60″ LCD screens.  Between the low price mark-up, and storage issues, it doesn’t seem like a good fit for Apple’s market.  Apple stores would end up being Best Buys and I can’t see Apple looking like a standard electronics store.

Maybe a smaller screen?
This I could stand behind but I don’t think it’ll carry the AppleTV branding.  It should be simple enough to include AirPlay into the Display monitors that Apple sells without too much hassle.  That coupled with the new integration with Airplay in Mountain Lion would be a perfect pairing.  Imagine sitting down at your desk and having a monitor with only one power cable and nothing else.

So what’s the short version?

The things that I expect to see is a LTE iPad coming out, and then being released in a  month or so.  The older iPad 2 will stick around as a low cost 16GB version.  To offset the long wait for the new iPad I except the AppleTV to come out as the “One more thing”.  It willbe an interface between the cable box and the TV and have HDMI as the interface.  Still being about the same size and jsut a bit more in price.

Have your own ideas what to expect?  Leave a comment below?

Categories: Crystal Ball, Tech with TaselTags: , , , , , , , ,


  1. My take on March 7th:
    Thank you for sharing yours!
    Karla Martin

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