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Will Apple Take A Gamble On iPad 3?

It's hard to argue that the iPad has been a success - despite many having reservations when it was first announced.

Interestingly the big blow-up in iPad sales came with the announcement of the iPad 2, which added features which Apple had denied were necesary on the first model. A similar thing happened with the iPhone 3G and its noticeable that Apple have improved the iPhone platform by stealing concepts from its rivals, usually after claiming that they were pointless in the first place. A similar process led up to the introduction of the very netbook-like MacBook Air 11"...

So with iPad 3 due for announcement very soon how big a risk is Apple prepared to take with its big selling device? Playing safe and releasing an incremental upgrade isn't really an option - after all Apple's share of a (admittedly growing) tablet market has fallen from near 100% to  tnear 50% in the last 18 months.

So what options are out there for Apple?

The Smaller iPad.

Despite Steve Jobs dismissal of the original Galaxy Tab, the smaller form factor has become very popular. The ability to slip into a back pocket, coat pocket or purse without requiring a conscious decision to carry a seperate tablet pack is appeaing on many levels. A 7" iPad would sell millions without necessarily cannibilising the full size device's sales.

The Widescreen iPad.

The iPad's screen's 4:3 aspect ratio isn't great for movie viewing as it means large black bars top and bottom of the video or a cropped view. A switch to a widescreen would also mean that Apple could move the charge/sync port to the long edge of the iPad making keyboard docks significantly more useful. The downside of this one would be the change in screen resolution, which would add a fourth screen size and third format for iOS developers to support. Given the awkward way that iOS handles screen size changes that may be a deal breaker for this one.

The Safe Pair of Hands.

Apple could stick with a 4:3 screen at around 10" and double the existing resolution, giving an easy upgrade path and decent backwards compatibility for existing users. Of course this doesn't mean that there won't be any innovations in the device.


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