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Regardless of the mountainous stack of rumors which are emerging about the iPad, the reality is that we are likely to see a release of the next generation device sometime before the end of the first quarter of 2011. A release by the end of March would signal a year since the launch of the iPad 2 and be a perfect time to capitalize on the expanding tablet market.

The current production model of the iPad is only the second generation of the device, due to the fact it has been so widely adopted and massively successful it feels like it has been in our lives for so much longer than it actually has. So what does the future hold for wondrous tablet device? Since the launch of the first generation iPad in April 2010 it has pretty much had the tablet industry locked down with an influx of competitor devices being released but none of them being able to match the success of the Apple slate. The release of the iPad 2 in March 2011 saw more an evolutionary progression rather than a device which contained any revolutionary functions or technologies, so where does that leave us for the iPad 3?

In recent weeks we have heard rumblings of a Retina display being included on the next generation device. We have heard murmurs of two different versions being released, one with a 7.85 inch display and the standard 9.7 inch that we have come to expect. The latest market rumor to emerge is that Apple are planning to shock the market by breaking the habit of following their traditional iPad pricing points and release a budget version price around the $299 mark in order to cater for the mid range segment.

The rumor site (as we call it at times) Digitimes have previous successes when it comes to the product release strategies of companies, including Apple, and are stating the follow:

Sources from Apple’s supply chain have claimed that there will be two versions of the new iPad, one targeting the high-end segment and the other the mid-range. Digitimes Research believe the two new iPad models will both be equipped the A6 processor with high-end model coming with a high resolution panel (2048×1536) and the mid-tier model featuring the same grade of panel as iPad 2 (1024×768).

With the recent success of devices such as the Amazon Kindle Fire it would make sense for Apple to produce a budget version of their tablet, although history has shown that the company tends not compete with competitors and instead looks to provide a superior product and user experience. One thought process is that instead of stopping production of the iPad 2 upon launch of its successor, the company could offer the device at a reduced cost, effectively making the current iPad the budget version of the new release. Whether or not the company can afford to produce the iPad 2 at its current specification and still drop the price to compete with the Kindle Fire is another story entirely.

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