Apple iPad 3 won’t be out this year, but was it ever meant to be?

This is becoming ridiculous. The market for Apple-related rumors has been crazier than usual this year, and it has all reached an interesting climax today. This is when we report that a device that was never even acknowledged to exist has apparently been delayed.

Of course we’re talking about the next iPad – let’s call it iPad 3 for the sake of brevity, although Apple may naturally decide to call it something else when it finally hits the streets. The first rumors about the iPad 3 came around the date of Apple’s iPad 2 announcement. Certain features that rumor-mongerers had initially pegged for the iPad 2 (such as a higher-resolution display) were immediately transferred to the iPad 3 the day they realized that the iPad 2 wasn’t the product of their hopes and dreams.

And so the iPad 3 saga began. We’ve been told, numerous times, that this new Apple tablet would be out sometime during this fall, perhaps at the same time as the next iPhone. Never mind how little sense that would make. For a few months, ask anyone in the tech media and blogosphere about the iPad 3 and you would get the same answer. It was due this year.

This ‘solid’ information was based on the opinions of some analysts (always the most trustworthy people in the business, it seems), and some leaks here, and some rumors there. Why would Apple announce a successor to a product it had just launched? Especially when lately Apple seems intent on making the gaps between its product announcements bigger, not smaller (see the iPhone 5, which wasn’t unveiled a year after its predecessor, as was always the case before). So why would Apple need the iPad 2 on the market for just a few months?

There’s one possible explanation that could barely make sense here. Let’s suppose that one of the biggest planned features for the iPad 2 was a Retina Display (alongside the cameras, and the dual-core processor). Now let’s assume that Apple just couldn’t get the display done in time. And that for some reason (fear of Android tablets, perhaps?) the company needed to stick to its iPad 2 announcement deadline and couldn’t push it any further. In that case, Apple may have decided to stick with the screen in the first iPad, and then try its best to have the higher-res panel ready later this year, when it would launch yet another tablet, perhaps selling it alongside the iPad 2 (which would become cheaper, just like Apple has been selling its previous iPhones at a discount when new models hit the streets).

It still seems a bit odd to me that Apple would be so desperate to push out a product with just one improvement compared to its predecessor that has only been launched a few months ago.

Anyway, today Digitimes reports that the famed (and never announced) iPad 3 has been delayed and won’t launch this year after all. It’s a bit funny to say that a product which was only ever rumored has been delayed, but let’s go with the flow here.

The reason for the delay? Why, it’s the display again. Apparently, Sharp is the only company that’s able to produce such a high-res (2048×1536) 9.7-inch panel at the moment, and it’s expensive. Apple did expect both Samsung and LG to have such displays ready, but neither company was apparently able to reach a good yield. That means that Apple can only buy them from Sharp at the moment, which means that it’s not going to be able to have enough tablets on the market this year.

Additionally, the new display requires a much bigger backlight source than the last-generation iPad display, and fitting that in while respecting Apple’s requirements regarding thinness and toughness proved to be quite difficult. So Apple just decided to wait.

The focus will be solely on the iPad 2 for the second half of this year, with supply expected to be around 28-30 million units.

Author: Vlad Bobleanta

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