updated 08:25 pm EST, Wed February 9, 2011
Apple said to have another iPad update in fall
Apple may get the edge on rivals by having two iPad updates in one year. Following a purely speculative mention by John Gruber on Wednesday, a separate rumor asserted that the imminent refresh would be followed up by a "big fall surprise" that would be a second model. What it would entail wasn't given to TechCrunch but might be the 2048x1536 display for which prototypes have been circulating but which was thought to be too early for the spring model.
The reasons and many of the other details aren't known, but Apple would have a number of incentives to have a second update in 2011. A fall launch, such as at its September music event, would let it re-sync the iPad's annual schedule to better put it closer to the holiday season.
Competition could be the primary issue. Although most now see Apple shipping devices once a year, the company has had a history of upgrading more quickly when competition was still tougher. The first few years of the iPod saw it updating roughly twice a year, usually to upgrade capacity or to roll out a minor update. The iPad is facing much stiffer opposition from the outset and will have to go against multiple dual-core, dual-camera tablets within weeks of when it ships, including the BlackBerry PlayBook, LG G-Slate and Motorola Xoom. A fall update could catch many of these off-guard. Many of them operate on an even more rigid yearly schedule that tends to center around events at the start of the year that they don't control, such as CES or this coming week's Mobile World Congress.
The upgrade could lead to advantageous timing for hardware upgrades, such as the higher resolution display as well as quad-core processors or graphics. Sony's NGP is shipping in a similar timeframe with just such an upgrade in store. Apple could have two or more months of lead time on opponents or prevent anyone shipping later in the year from upending its current market share.