updated 08:05 am EST, Tue December 28, 2010
iPad 2 EVDO and HSPA models said coming
Apple will have three separate versions of the next iPad and may ship earlier than expected, part suppliers said on Tuesday. The tablet should still have a pure Wi-Fi version but will serve 3G with both a regular HSPA version and an EVDO model for carriers like Verizon. The 3G versions have been unusually popular, at 60 to 65 percent of shipments, according to Digitimes, and the extra wireless support would help fill demand.
The 3G push is corroborated by a slew of subsidized carrier plans that have been rolled out in recent months. Many cut the price of the iPad by half or less on a contract, and in some cases give it away for free.
Along with the known design change and extra wireless support, Apple is also reportedly taking steps to draw in Kindle buyers with changes to the screen. The display would get both an improved oleophobic (oil-resistant) screen to further reduce smudging as well as a more glare-resistant treatment to make it more suitable to the outdoors. A clue as to the anti-glare panel may have come with the new MacBook Air, whose display is still glossy but noticeably less reflective than on earlier MacBooks.
Apple might also be eager to move up the ship date beyond the original April target. Production shipments would start heading out as soon as late January, not the previously suggested February, and would see a small initial batch of 500,000 to 530,000 units arrive, 30 percent of which would be Wi-Fi, 40 percent HSPA and 30 percent EVDO. More shipments would continue right up to the release date, which could now include a March release date if Apple doesn't have to push it back to a previously cited April target.
The release would be ambitious and could see Apple deliver as many as 40 million iPads in 2011, possibly getting as much as 65 percent to 75 percent of the market worldwide. Such a ratio would be higher than expected by analysts, as many of them expect Android 3.0 to give Google's partners a much stronger platform.