The iPhone 4S launch is all done and dusted, so naturally we're all moving on from our obsessive speculation over every single aspect of what the Apple handset has on board... to start talking about the next iPad.
Yep, it's iPad 3 speculation time, and the rumours are hitting high gear early thanks to reports that Apple is looking to fend off the increasingly serious threat from Amazon by releasing a more affordable iPad that will come in closer to the Kindle Fire's ultra-low cost price point.
According to Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White, Apple is looking to move into more “price-sensitive” territory by downsizing the iPad's spec to give it a more entry-level shine.
White bases his prediction on discussions with supply chain companies at a trade show in China this week, where the overall impression was one of weakening demand across the tablet industry, placing a higher emphasis on affordability for devices to be competitive.
“Our research is pointing to the unveiling of a lower priced iPad in the first few months of 2012 that is aimed at expanding the company’s market potential by tapping into a more price sensitive consumer segment,” White wrote to investors.
“Essentially, this ‘iPad mini’ will also fend off the recently announced Amazon Kindle Fire that addresses the low-end tablet market with a $199 price tag but could lead to bigger tablet ambitions from the online retailer in the future.”
White emphasised that the “mini” reference was neither an attempt at predicting what the tablet will be called, nor a suggestion that the cut-price tablet will be physically smaller than the standard 9.7in-screened Apple slate.
So will this stop Apple by following up with a high-spec iPad 3 proper later in the year? White doesn't think so: “we believe this lower priced iPad could be priced in the mid-to-high-$200 range/ We expect this will be followed by a much more powerful, feature rich standard-priced iPad 3 in 2Q12.”