Now that we have the iPhone 4S behind us it is time to set our sites on the next Apple product to be released and it seems the most logical is going to be the iPad 3. There is nothing concrete with the rumors on what we can expect but it would appear certain that a retina screen in the iPad 3 would be a safe bet. So when can we expect the iPad three? Here is where the speculation and some news might help out narrow it down some. Always seeming to hang around one year birthdays for their devices, Apple released the iPad 2 on March 11th so it stands to reason that we will see a new iPad 3 first quarter of 2012. There has been some rumors coming form a local Chinese newspaper that apple is ramping up product in the first quarter and that Foxconn will be afforded limited time off during the annual Lunar new year holiday period. So it it could be that we could see an iPad 3 release or announcement on Feb. 24th which is Steve Jobs birthday. Steve Jobs, if you just fell off a turnip truck, is the beloved CEO and chief innovator of Apple who just passed away. Whether or not Apple honors Steve’s birthday  for the iPad 3 next year like they did they did this year with the  MacBook Pro, remains to be seen, but after using the iPad way more often then I would have ever thought to watch movies and stream video, I am very excited to see a possible retina iPad 3.

Now, if those rumors and speculation wasn’t enough for you check this noise out. Chatter around some campfires are also suggesting that there could be an iPad Mini, or 7.85 inch version of the iPad in 2012. Apple, who has always been pretty proud of their 9.7 inch, and who could blame them with their sales, has never deviated from their current form factors both with the iPhone and iPad. Creating a 7 inch iPad could be an admission that the Amazon Kindle Fire has turned out to be more of a competitor than Apple would like to admit and go against their philosophy of marching to their own drum and not competing with other companies with their form factors.

Personally I am not a huge fan of the smaller tablet sizes. After using the 10 inch version, they seem just right. Creating 7 inch tablets with smartphone screen sizes in the 4-5 inch ranges confuses the intent of the tablet. Currently I am using a 4.7 inch HTC TITAN and loving the huge screen and the still very pocketable device. A 7 inch is not pocketable, and is no more portable than the 10 inch versions. Amazon is having great success with the Kindle Fire because of price point and the Amazon ecosystem that makes for a great user experience, something Android tablets have lacked. Apple has a tremendous eco system and should strongly reconsider any thoughts of chasing competitors on cost.

So Apple, if you are reading this, pass on the 7 inch tablet and stay focused on the 10 inch iPad and separating it from competitors on quality and innovation, not on price. If necessary, let consumers buy older versions of the iPad for reduced pricing which is acceptable and still a better product than most flagship tablets on the market.

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[via redmond pie and MacRumors]

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