March Madness is already infecting the iOSsphere in February, as rumors ignite about launching the Next iPad in just three weeks.
This week: the iOSsphere lusts for LTE, Apple orders zillions of iPad 3 screens, Jonathan Geller and the Cloud of Knowing, subtle differences in the iPad 3 back cover reveal...subtle differences in the iPad 3 back cover.
You read it here second.
"If these reports are true, Apple is thinking big for its new tablet."
~Jake Smith, 9t05Mac, on the importance of relabeling "rumors" as "reports" to justify stating the obvious as a startling insight.
iPad 3 will be announced in first week of March
Forget college basketball. This year, March Madness means the iPad 3 launch. And we can thank "sources" for this information, according to John Paczkowski, of the All Things D blog for The Wall Street Journal.
Subsequent posts throughout the iOSsphere now narrow The Day to March 7. You can expect to see soon new posts giving detailed historico-cultural-politico-economic analysis of the relative merits of Apple announcing on a Wednesday vs. Tuesday, or Monday, or Thursday....
Whatever day it is, it will be a special event, "presumably at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Apple's preferred location for big announcements like these, Paczkowski writes. The sources couldn't or didn't give him any information on when the Next iPad will go on sale, "though my guess is retail availability will follow roughly the same schedule as that of the iPad 2: Available for purchase a week or so after the event," Paczkowski writes.
And the sources say you should expect what the rumors, guesses, and fantasies -- though Paczkowski calls these "reports" -- have been telling you: a "device similar in form factor to the iPad 2, but running a much faster chip, sporting an improved graphics processing unit, and featuring a 2048×1536 Retina Display — or something close to it." That's twice the iPad 2's current resolution but still quite a bit less in pixel density than the current iPhone 4S Retina Display.
"If 2011 was the year of the iPad 2, will 2012 be the year of the iPad 3?" asks Paczkowski, lobbing what journalists BDE (Before the Digital Era) used to call a "softball." The answer: "Said a source familiar with the device: 'What do you think?'"
iPad 3 will have LTE for sure
Citing "people familiar with the matter," The Wall Street Journal reports this week that Verizon and AT&T, which are the only two U.S. mobile carriers offering the 3G iPad 2, will sell an iPad 3 model that runs on their 4G/LTE cellular networks. The reporters couldn't discover whether the other big mobile carriers, Sprint and T-Mobile USA, will also sell it.
The Journal argues that the two carriers "banking heavily on LTE to attract new subscribers and to get existing subscribers to upgrade to more lucrative monthly smartphone and tablet contracts." Presumably that means upgrading from a lower-end 3G phone used mainly for voice, and adding some kind of cellular data plan. An LTE iPad could help them "drum up demand for the faster service, in the way the original iPhone dramatically increased demand for 3G wireless data plans."
Another reason to encourage the shift, according to the story, is that LTE networks are up to 50% more efficient than today's more widely deployed 3G networks, which means carriers can do more with the same amount of spectrum.
Apple orders 65 million higher-def iPad 3 displays
Sites like 9to5Mac picked up a Chinese language post at China Times which claims that Apple has ordered 65 million displays for iPad 3, with a pixel density of 264 pixels per inch.
China Times sources for the "report" are people in Apple's Asian supply chain and "South Korean media news." In other words, other rumors.
Despite this, 9to5Mac's Jake Smith generously calls the China Times post a "report" and observers that "Apple ordered a whopping 65 million 264PPI Retina displays from both LG and Samsung. Both have reportedly already begun production, as well. It is not clear if this number includes orders from Sharp, who is rumored to be building displays from the iPad 3."
The real unanswered question here is clearly: who is NOT building displays for iPad 3?
As is the case with nearly everyone, Smith doesn't actually quote from China Times. And with Google Translate, we know why. Here's the opening: "According to the Apple supply chain vendors and the South Korean media news, Apple commissioned by Samsung and LGD iPad3 retina panel (Retina Display) has been the mass production stage, this year's panel purchases of at least 65 million, on behalf of Apple iPad3 shipments this year...."
"For comparison," Smith helpfully adds, "Apple ordered 40 million displays for the iPad 2. Today's report indicates a substantial 60 percent to 70 percent increase over iPad 2. If these reports are true, Apple is thinking big for its new tablet."
Even if these "reports" are false, Rollup's guess is that Apple is thinking big for its new tablet.
The iPad 3 is known to Jonathan S. Geller
In a Valentine's Day post for readers of Boy Genius Report (or "BGR, the three biggest letters in tech☺, Jonathan S. Geller led with the headline, "What I know about the iPad 3," which might suggest that the three biggest letters in tech are actually JSG.
It's not really clear how JSG knows what he knows, the epistemological dilemmas of the iOSsphere being what they are. And he actually suggests that what he knows is only part of his post, the rest being "what's been rumored and reported" and "what I'd wager" the Next iPad will have. He also relies on grainy photographs with deliberately blurred-out fields that don't reveal very much at all, but qualify as "exclusive reports," as Rollup noted last week.
So, what JSG knows is this: "Retina Display is a near-certainty," essentially doubling the iPad 2's resolution, though it would still have fewer pixels-per-inch than the iPhone 4S Retina Display; LTE is a "very solid chance"; better cameras; Wi-Fi and cellular models; quad-core processor, which will also be in the iPhone 5 later this year; larger battery to compensate for the LTE modem's power demands; iOS 5.1, which is a "no-brainer"; and Siri, or at least some parts of Siri.
Reading all this recalls to Rollup the medieval Christian mystical text, "The Cloud of Unknowing," which, according to Wikipedia, counsels "a young student to seek [the iPad], not through knowledge and intellection (faculty of the human mind), but through intense contemplation, motivated by love, and stripped of all thought."
"This is brought about by putting all thoughts and desires under a 'cloud of forgetting', and thereby piercing [the iPad 3's] cloud of unknowing with a 'dart of longing love' from the heart. This form of contemplation is not directed by the intellect, but involves spiritual union with [iPad 3] through the heart...."
Did we mention that JSG posted his knowing on Valentine's Day?
iPad 3's back housing will be, you know, different
An iDevice repair outfit based in Witchita, Kan., has posted what it claims to be a photo of the inside back housing for the iPad 3, and by comparing it with a real iPad 2 inside back housing, comes to the startling conclusion that they're different.
Fix-iPhones.com's RepairLabs blog posted the photos last week, saying they came from "industry insiders in China" but later mentions only "a source."
Apparently Fix-iPhones only got the photo, not the actual case. For some reason, they didn't ask their Industry InChina Insiders (or IICI as in "ickey" for short) for, you know, information. Like, "hey can you measure the distance between A and B?" or "How thick is it exactly?"
So, like NASA scientists peering at raw images from the Mars Rover, the iPad scientists at Fix-iPhones were left trying to figure out just what the heck they were seeing. With somewhat less success than NASA, Rollup fears, despite the Website's breezy assurance that "You can see that there are several subtle differences, and together with our techs, we are able to tell you just what to expect when Apple announces the iPad 3."
Subtle enough that plenty of us can't even see them. "You may not see it on the image above, but others point out minor changes in rear camera and LCD display mount," says an apparently underwhelmed James Isabel, writing at The Appera.
He who has eyes to see, let him see. "You can see here that the mounts for the logic board are very different, which means the logic board shape will be different," says Fix-iPhones. When you put it like that, it's so obvious. Specifically, the difference is that the iPad 3 logic board will be smaller. If true, that would make more room for something else. For Fix-iPhones, that something else is a bigger battery. "We have long heard that the iPad 3 was going to provide longer battery life, and this back housing seems to support that," says the blogpost, doubtless long hearing this from, lo, those many Industry InChina Insiders.
The back housing shows that both the iPad 3 camera and the LCD display is or will be different in iPad 3. Though how, Fix-iPhones can't say. "It is hard to make a judgment just by looking at the casing..." Hard to make a judgement? This is the iOSsphere: judgements are what we do. It's like those NASA scientists. "Whadaya think? Are those sand ripples caused by water or wind action?" "Could be an ancient Martian sand painting. You know, like those Tibetans."
Alas, the IICIs could provide few details of the Next Ipad's LCD, which is "probably what most of us are eagerly awaiting," according to Fix-iPhones. "That could mean that the finished product has not been signed off or that it is being kept top secret."
Or. Or both. Or doesn't exist. Or the IICI is pulling your leg. Or any number of other things.
"Whatever the case may be [apparently a completely unintended pun], this back housing provides an interesting look into the changes we can expect when the iPad 3 is officially announced."
Whatever it is, it's interesting: the true spirit of Apple rumors.
iPad 3 to pave the way for 1080p iTunes content, and new Apple TV
A higher resolution iPad 3 could be accompanied by an upgrade to Apple's iTunes store to begin offering 1080p high definition content, speculates Arnold Kim, at Macrumors.
"A Retina Display iPad [i.e. doubling the iPad 2's resolution to 2,048 x 1,536 pixels] would represent an opportunity for Apple to launch a 1080p iTunes Store," Kim suggests. "It would also make sense for it to correspond to an Apple TV update" supporting the same higher resolution.
Currently, iTunes video content can reach 720p. The idea of a higher-def iTunes is not new: AppleInsider had a July 2011 post that Apple might start testing 1080p content in fall 2011. That post outlines a trio of requirements: backend infrastructure to support 1080p streaming; stable, 10Mbps network links to receive it, and client side displays and processors to display it.
iPad 3 to be banned in China
This is a rarity: an actual news story, this one by Rollup's sister news agency, IDG News Service, which reports that the Next iPad is the target of "an ongoing trademark dispute in China, after a little-known Chinese firm said on Wednesday it has filed for a customs ban with local authorities to stop the import and export of the tablet."
A lawyer for the display vendor Proview confirmed the vendor filed the request with China's custom offices, but declined to go into details. "'We feel that Apple is infringing on the iPad trademark,' he said, adding that the company's goal was to stop shipments of Apple's next generation iPad."
The filing is the latest move in the legal battle to determine whether Proview or Apple owns the iPad trademark in mainland China. Last December, a court rejected Apple's claims to the trademark, "putting the company's iPad at risk of further legal action in the country."
The story quotes the Proview lawyer as claiming that "more than 30 commercial regulatory offices in China are investigating Apple's sales of the iPad."
Nothing to worry about here in the U.S., though. Unless the "Boycott the iPhone 5 Until Its Ethcial movement" extends, as it logically and ethically should, to the iPad 3. Not to mention the Next Mac and MacBook.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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