Apple Talk: iPad 3 launch in September? Surely Jobs isn't that crazy

It's still unclear how Apple will use its September launch event...

...a new iPhone. Again, that is speculation. An iPhone launch in September is needed and would satisfy the assertion that the company needs more than iPods in September to get people excited. But an iPad 3?

It would be highly surprising for a number of reasons, not least the issues with display technologies in the quantities needed by Apple.

First, it would infuriate iPad 2 owners. It's true that Apple has a tendency to alienate users on legacy kit with new upgrades. Sometimes its definition of legacy is just a couple of years or a previous processor generation.

Releasing a new version less than a year after the iPad 2 would cause considerable discontent and potential damage to the brand

Releasing a new version less than a year after the iPad 2 would cause considerable discontent and potential damage to the brandPhoto: Apple

iPad Pro speculation

However, the iPad remains a consumer-focused item and releasing a new version less than a year after the previous version would cause considerable discontent and potential damage to the brand. I'm not sure that the talk of the iPad Pro aimed at the power user market holds much water. It muddles the marketing for starters and Apple has worked hard on its sales messages.

Secondly, it would seem a rushed strategy. Apple is in no rush at the moment but its competitors are. Apple is commanding an overwhelming share of tablet sales and has no serious competitors. By which I mean competitors that threaten to challenge it significantly in the market.

There has been a rush of Android tablets, some lacking features their marketing promised, such as the Xoom, which had been expected to support the anti-Apple panacea of Flash and include a built-in microSD.

The RIM PlayBook is another device that feels rushed to market, with several reviewers criticising the device for its flaws.

Even reviews of the yet-unreleased webOS-powered HP TouchPad suggest there are a few rough edges, with performance and screen lag being the main issues.

Apple setting the agenda

In the meantime, Apple doesn't seem to be in a rush. It is setting the agenda and establishing the terms of the nascent tablet market. Its present product is arguably as advanced as any existing tablet and certainly more accomplished.

There's no need to rush out the next iteration - it would only be competing with its own technology. Apple's own tendency is towards evolution not revolution once a product has launched. Mac OS X is a perfect example of this. Increasingly, the iPhone is another.

Finally, there's the matter of money. Apple doesn't need to roll out an iPad 3 in the same year because the money is still rolling in from the iPad 2. It hasn't yet reported a full quarter of sales for the iPad 2 but analysts are increasing estimates based on sustained demand for the product. Why risk the sales for the sake of a possibly unnecessary iteration leap?

An iPad 3 launch in 2011 remains an outside bet. However, the speculation is probably fuelled by the desire of fans desperate to play Angry Birds at 326 pixels per inch than by any strategic insight. I may be wrong but I'm guessing that 2011 remains the year of the iPad 2.