The rumor machine is churning, and normally we try not to speculate too much, but since Motorola, RIM, and HP have all made the announcements for their tablets, many are wondering what Apple is going to do. John Gruber at Daring Fireball put out some ideas yesterday that really make sense, and given his pretty good track record recently, his “guesses” have a bit of weight to them.

Take Apple’s current release schedule, and you are likely to see some kind of iPad refresh in the spring. According to Gruber, this will be what we are expecting, but on the conservative side. There will be a front facing camera added, it will be faster, have more storage, and possibly be thinner and lighter. But spring is not a particularly good time for annual iPad releases, and Gruber speculates that Apple may move it to the fall, which is when traditionally they have announced new iPods and iPod touch models. Putting the iPad into the fall schedule would certainly help holiday sales, and would eliminate the “wait and see” feeling that you sometimes get when you think Apple will be releasing a revision just a few months after the holidays.

That being the case, Gruber speculates that the fall may hold a second iPad revision, one that wouldn’t replace the new iPad 2, but would be a differentiating model. The most likely candidate? An iPad “HD,” where Apple would find a way to fit in a higher resolution display similar to the Retina display in the iPhone 4, without it being prohibitively expensive. Apple’s recent $4 billion investment into “unspecified components for future products” has to be for something, right? Gruber writes, “I think part of that might be spending huge amounts of money — billions of dollars — to bring retina display iPads to market at non-insane prices sooner than most people expect is possible.”

If all these pieces of the puzzle fit, and they seem to, Apple’s competitors will have not just the iPad 2 to compete with, but possibly the iPad 3 as well. Not only that, but the iPad 2 might be in stores before any of the newly announced tablets are. How the others fare will depend on how fast they can iterate and improve on their devices. It should make for an interesting year.

Article Via Daring Fireball

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