Last night sucked.
But, the good news is that Wednesday brings a new day and, perhaps more importantly, a new iPad for the whole world to see and bask in the glory of.
It seems a popular pastime to read rumor blogs and sites on days leading up to the big Apple announcements. I do quite a bit, and I suspect that even Joe I-know-nothing Schmo is even remotely aware of some of the features of the new iPad.
My intention is not to guess feature-by-feature, though I will. To me, the new features seem fairly obvious. While Apple has a history and passion for surprising the tech industry with new innovations (who saw the Smart Cover coming?), I suspect that most of what we will see on Wednesday will not be as shocking as other Apple events. I'd like to take some guesses at how the event will roll out. Then, maybe I'll come back here and judge how I did.
- The stage is sure to be set with a giant Apple logo on the screen, as it always has been. They'll be playing a mix of Adele and perhaps some other new, hipster artist over the PA. The room will be dark and there'll be some chairs, just as Steve sat in for the original iPad introduction. There'll be some iPad 3s (or whatever they're going to call them) on a table near the side of the stage for demo purposes. They'll, of course, be covered in black sheets.
- The lights will dim and Tim Cook, the new CEO, will come out and greet the crowd. Apple typically begins with news about the company and it has been far enough from their quarterly earnings report that they'll have some updated numbers about the business. Tim will run over how well the iPhone and iPad are doing, emphasizing the recently passed 25 billion app downloads. Apple has sold over 50 million iPads, and I suspect that that'll be a large part of the numbers presentation.
- Tim will even speak to how well the Apple TV is doing. I should make this clear, I doubt that we will see an actual Apple television set at this keynote. If there is an update to the product line at all, it will likely be an A5 chips that powers it, 1080p output, and perhaps a few more services integrated in. I suspect that they'll announce a new model Apple TV box (one that connects to your TV via HDMI) but it will be a minimal upgrade. This event is about the iPad, not the Apple TV.
- Tim will introduce Phil Schiller, Senior Vice President of Worldwise Marketing. Tim Cook is a nice guy and definitely a wiz at organizing a company, but Phil is the presenter. Phil is, in my opinion, the only executive that can hold a candle ate Steve's presentation style. Phil will be the one to introduce the new iPad.
- Phil will talk a bit about the success of the iPad and present some very high sales numbers that perhaps Tim had eluded to earlier. Don't bet against them talking about how the tablet competition can't keep up. He will absolutely also talk about the popularity of the new iPad Textbooks and present some spun numbers that will actually be very low but will seem high. Phil can spin numbers like few others.
- Then, he will begin to talk about the new iPad. He will talk about how great a product the iPad is and how it is changing the way that people interact with content. He will likely show a video about how the iPad is changing lives. Expect the video to be touching to your senses.
- "Then, we thought to ourselves, how can we make this magical device even better? We have come up with a ton of new ways, and we will focus on many of them this morning," he might say. What will it be called? My guess is either the iPad 3 or, more likely, the iPad 2S. He will show it and it will look a whole lot like and iPad 2.
- "The first revolutionary change...our unbelievable Retina Display. The Retina Display on the iPhone 4, 4S, and iPod touch is just gorgeous. It's something you have to see to really believe. It's the only display that truly lets you read from your phone as if you were reading from a printed page. It is phenomenal. Now, we are bringing that display to the iPad. It doubles every pixel to present things you might never have imagined. It make reading on the iPad the most enjoyable reading experience you've ever had." Apple keynotes are known for their superb use of hyperbole.
- Demo of the Retina display a la the iPhone 4 announcement. Hopefully without the "Turn off your wifi" moment.
- Next, the dual-core A5X processor. Phil will talk about how fast it is, dual core, with updated graphics. I'd imagine the new graphics will be about 7-9x the graphics performance of the iPad 2. "This thing just screams. And, mixing this with the retina display creates an amazing gaming experience." Also, I expect an update to the iMovie for iPad software.
- Demo of the A5X processor, done by game makers like the makers of infinity blade or Electonic Arts. If new iMovie software, a demo would go here as well.
- Next, Cameras. The iPad 2 cameras are horrible for everything but FaceTime, so a camera update is entirely needed. I'd expect a camera upgrade to the level of the iPhone 4, but not the 4S. They'll show some gorgeous pictures of what can be done with the iPad cameras.
- Along with that, a new app. iPhoto. Scott Forstall will likey come out for this. The photos app for iPad is simply unable to do anything like iPhoto for the Mac can do. Because Apple insists on photos being tied down to apps, the third-party offerings are insufficient. I don't expect this to be a separate purchasable app, this will be an updated version of the 'Photos' app that already resides on your iPad.
- Next, Siri. Siri, at least for dictation, makes too much sense to leave it out. Scott will either stay out or Phil will welcome him back out to talk about how much better Siri has gotten and how pleased customers are with it. They'll do a thorough demo of Siri and if I were you, I'd expect several new functions for Siri that will ship on the iPad 2S. Perhaps coming later via a software update to iPhone 4Ss. Sorry iPhone 4 users, I doubt Siri is ever coming to your phone. iPads are used differently that iPhones so this will be an interesting place for innovation on Apple's part.
- Next, LTE. Phil will be back. He will talk about the popularity of the 3G iPads and how quickly companies like Verizon are building out their LTE networks. I suspect that the 3G in these models will be like the iPhone 4S and be compatible with both GSM and CDMA. Not sure what to guess about whether or not you will still have to choose Verizon, AT&T or Sprint, like you do on the phone. No contracts though, that's for sure.
- Battery life. The iPad 2S will have the same 10 hour battery life. Which, if you think about it, is quite a feat.
- Then Phil will talk about price. Price is easy. $499 16GB. $599 32GB. $699 64 GB. Add $129 to each to get the Wifi+3G+LTE versions. Same pricing as before. The iPad 2 will continue to remain available for $399 at 16GB only.
- And that'll be it. There could be some sort of surprise attachment or accessory, but for the most part, the event will be pretty standard. Phil will invite everyone to the hands on demo center and a few lucky journalists will go home with loaner models with which to reveal.
- Release date? I'm guessing March 16th. If they do a pre-order (unlikely), it will start on the 9th.
I think people are going to feel Steve's absence. The last product announcement was a day before Steve's death and I just suspect that it'll be felt worse here than before.
I think some will come away feeling disappointed with the event, because it won't be as flashy as we expect. The Retina Display is going to be amazing and the device is going to truly scream. The graphics will be astounding and there's surely some exciting new software possibilites coming. All in all though, I wouldn't expect to be blown out of the water.
If all this comes true, would this be a device worth getting? Definitely. Worth updating form our iPad 2? Maybe. One thing is for sure, they're going to sell a lot of them. Millions. And they'll sell them fast.
Would you get one of these iPads?