While Apple's upcoming event in New York is unlikely to produce an iPad 3 announcement, we should expect to finally have the rumors put to rest next month. Apple is known for being rather tight lipped until the snuggle up close to a release date, and with an expected release in late March or early April, we're quickly approaching the time for an announcement.
But what will Apple announce? Will Digitimes be right about the Retina Display? Will Digitimes be right about the display resolution doubling? Will Digitimes be right about a 1080p display? At the very least, Digitimes will probably be right about one of their predictions, even if their batting average turns out to be around .080.
Those expecting the iPad 3 to sport a Retina Display will probably be disappointed. Remember, Apple not only needs a Retina Display that can keep costs down so that their profit margin remains the same and doesn't cause the iPad's battery life to dip below 10 hours, but they also need to produce 12-17 million of these displays each quarter and actually trust the supply chain to deliver.
A more realistic expectation is that the iPad 3 will deliver 1080p resolution (1920x1080), which is probably as much as it needs. It's also possible the iPad 3 will double the current resolution to 2048x1536, which would allow current games and applications to use the same pixel-doubling technique used to display iPhone applications on the iPad's display. (This resolution has been mistakenly called Retina Display by some media outlets, but actually falls a little short of the 300 pixels per inch needed for that designation.)
The easy guesses for the iPad 3 are an increase to both processing speed and the speed at which the iPad 3 processes graphics. It may even sport a quad-core processor, which is what the mobile industry will begin moving to in 2012.
One area that hasn't received much attention in the rumormill is the amount of memory available for applications. The iPad 2 currently has 512 MB of RAM, but a move to 1 GB would make sense for an iPad 3 with a higher resolution display. It would also provide more elbow room for the iPad's multitasking abilities.
And don't expect the iPad 3 to be released with the same less-than-ideal cameras we got with the iPad 2. We should see camera quality comparable to the iPhone 4S, which only makes since considering the iPad app of the year (Snapseed) is photo-editing software.
Perhaps the easiest guess is Siri. The voice-control system introduced with the iPhone 4S will make its way to the iPad 3. Which might end up being a headache for Verizon and AT&T. Siri is cloud-based, which means it sends your commands to Apple and then received a reply. Siri is credited with doubling the amount of web traffic used by iPhone 4S owners. Luckily, much of the traffic generated by the iPad goes through Wi-Fi rather than 3G.
Apple is also in a bidding war for English Premier League (EPL) TV rights. While this may not be a huge splash over here in the u.S., streaming EPL games to the iPad 3 could be a big hit in England and Europe where soccer is king. It also shows where Apple is prepared to go with Apple TV and the iPad.
As for a second iPad in 2012... I wouldn't hold my breath for an iPad 4. It is possible Apple could be rethinking its 7" strategy or planning a lower-budget tablet, but until we actually hear something solid, I wouldn't put too much stock in it. While analysts think it would be a good counter to the Kindle Fire, Apple has a long history of not making their decisions based on the competition.