Apple sent out invitations to an event next Wednesday, March 7th, to be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, reports Mashable. Besides the time and location information, the invite only says “We have something you really need to see. And touch.” The event is due to begin at 10 a.m. Pacific Time (1 p.m. ET).
Though Apple has not confirmed what it will announce at the event, there are strong rumours that the iPad 3 will be unveiled. The image on the invitation, which shows a finger tapping an iPad, appears to suggest that the rumours are correct.
“The picture is zoomed in on an icon and I don’t see any pixels in that icon,” Avi Greengart, analyst at Current Analysis, said, underscoring how industry experts pick apart even Apple’s communiques for hints of what to expect. “You don’t need exceptional foresight to guess that Apple is likely looking at a higher resolution display.”
The San Francisco location contradicts a rumor from earlier today that said the event would be held in New York City. Many expressed doubt over that rumor since it goes against almost every previous Apple product unveiling, which are typically held on the West Coast.
The company typically updates its key products annually and the iPad 2 was announced in March last year. It went on sale a couple of weeks after the announcement.
iLounge recently reported that it saw a prototype of the next-generation iPad at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and that it looks just like the iPad 2, only thicker by about 1 mm. The camera in the top left corner is expected to be a bit larger than the iPad 2 and similar to the improved camera featured on the iPhone 4S.
It’s also been rumored that the next-generation iPad will have a high-resolution screen – possibly even double dpi — and a stronger interior. However, the updates seen by iLounge seem to be more cosmetic than structural. Could the next-generation device be an upgrade similar to that of the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 4S?
It is possible that Apple will also use the event to announce an improved Apple TV, possibly with support for full 1080p high definition video. The current model supports only 720 HD.
In early February, it was reported that Apple was in ‘crunch mode’, making the final preparations for the iPad launch event. The reports followed photos that were apparently leaked from Apple’s Asian suppliers and which appeared to show parts for the forthcoming tablet computer.
The iPad 2 is powered by an Apple-designed A5 processor but it is thought that the new iPad will feature an A6 processor, which is either a new dual-core chip or a quad-core chip depending on which rumour you choose to believe.
It is not clear whether the next-generation iPad will feature improved cameras, increased storage or Siri – Apple’s voice-controlled personal assistant.
With the iPad 2 starting at $499, investors will also be watching to see if Apple plans to discount it, creeping farther down the price chain and closer to the Amazon’s Kindle Fire (which sells at half the cost), to broaden the iPad’s appeal.
The company’s market value has climbed steadily in past weeks, buoyed by anticipation over its latest gadget as well as by hopes that Apple will finally accede to shareholders’ demands it return some of its $98 billion war chest of cash and securities.
On Tuesday, Apple shares closed at a record high of $535.41 in heavy trading on the Nasdaq, up 1.8 percent on the day, according to the Reuters.
Apple has sold 55 million iPads since the device first launched, in 2010, and sees it as a key product for the future. Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, recently told a conference that he expects tablet computers to eventually overtake PCs.
Speaking at a conference hosted by Goldman Sachs, Tim Cook said: “From the first day it shipped, we thought that the tablet market would become larger than the PC market and it was just a matter of the time it took for that to occur. I feel that stronger today than I did then.”
Next week’s event will be the first major Apple product launch since the death of Steve Jobs, the company’s co-founder and former chief executive. Tim Cook led the announcement of the iPhone 4S in October last year. Jobs died the following day.