Apple Invites And The Tech World's In A Tizzy

After weeks of “speculation, rumors and dream casting,” the day is finally coming. No, we’re not talking about who will appear on Season 14 of “Dancing with the Stars,” as HuffPoTV is. We’re talking iPad 3. Most probably.

In it’s typically cagey fashion, Apple sent out invitations to the media yesterday for an event next Wednesday at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where Steve Jobs came back from medical leave to unveil the iPad 2 last March 2.

"We have something you really have to see. And touch," the invitation reads. It also has a picture of a sharply rendered screen showing the icons for the Calendar, Maps and Keynote apps.

“The inclusion that people will ‘have to see’ the new device is likely a reference to the high-resolution Retina Display that Apple is expected to add to its next-generation iPad,” according to Apple Insider. “Rumors have suggested the display will have a resolution of 2,048 by 1,536 pixels, which would be twice the resolution of the 1,024-by-768 screen found on the iPad 2.”

Rumors do indeed abound. A YouTube video purports to show the edge-to-edge display, along with a 12-megapixel camera with LED flash. The entire screen is the “home” button, the video also reveals, which hopefully will ground all of the tech bloggers who are “in a tizzy because there's no home button on the iPad's bezel,” as Jared Newman of PCWorld puts it.

Two other short videos, also posted by Aatma Studio, show other intriguing features such as two iPads being held together by mighty magnets and doubling the viewable screen, as well as a holographic capability that would be particularly neato-keeno for gaming. Many commenters are sagely skeptical about the latter two features actually appearing in this version of the iPad -– “Haha, nice concept though,” reads one. But such is the reputation of Apple in making the futuristic happen sooner than anticipated that he goes on: “And we might come to see some of these features in a ‘probably’ near future.”

New features that are likely to appear include “a faster processor and the possible ability to connect to high-speed 4G wireless networks run by AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless,” report David Sarno and Nathan Olivarez-Giles in the Los Angeles Times. They say that the upgrade is coming in the nick of time: Apple's huge slice of the tablets market dropped to 57% in the fourth quarter from 64% in the same quarter a year ago.

“Eating up part of the company's share was Amazon.com Inc. and its $200 Kindle Fire tablet, which went on sale in November and captured 14% of the market during its first three months in stores, according to research firm IHS iSuppli,” they write.

Although Apple CEO Tim Cook has been dismissive of the Kindle Fire –- calling it a “cheap” device that users quickly grow disenchanted with after using it –- analysts point out that it can only get better.

Apple’s shares shot up nearly 2% yesterday on news of next week’s event, putting it in an “elite group of companies to reach a $500 billion equity valuation,” Chris Nuttall and Richard Waters write in Financial Times. It is the world’s most valuable company, with a current valuation that is $90 billion higher than No. 2, Exxon Mobil.

There’s a cautionary note to their story, however. Apple’s market capitalization, which is slightly lower at $499 billion because it is based only on the number of its shares in issue, “is close to the combined value of the last three technology companies that came close to, or surpassed, the $500 billion market capitalization.” Then came the dot-com bust of 2000. Those companies are Microsoft (now $266 billion), Intel ($136 billion) and Cisco ($109 billion).

The new iPad3 device “will be a test of whether Apple can draw new customers to the category and get early adopters to upgrade,” writes Jessica E. Vascellaro in the Wall Street Journal.

Some of those early adopters are already dumping their units, it would appear. CNET’s Josh Lowensohn reports that eBay has “generated more than 125,000 tablet trade-in offers this month, with 97.6% of those consisting of Apple iPad models. That number is up tenfold from the number of offers during the same month last year.”

If you want to keep up with the speculation about the iPad 3 as it breaks –- right down to such scintillating details as “Purported 'iPad 3' Rear Panel Measures 0.81mm Thicker Than iPad 2” -- Apple Insider has a newsfeed of rumors and gossip at www.appleinsider.com/topics/iPad_3.html.

Tags: electronics
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