How the Grinch Stole the iPad

The latest Apple rumor landed under the Christmas tree with a thud: Apple's Chinese manufacturer, Foxconn, will begin shipping the next version of the iPad, dubbed iPad 2, within the next 100 days, sources told DigiTimes. This means a spring launch, which makes sense given that the original iPad debuted last spring.

This rumor comes at an especially bad time for Apple. Surveys point to a very merry Christmas for tech gadgets, with the Apple iPad leading the way. Consumer electronics shopping site Retrevo surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers about their plans for the holiday spending spree, and the iPad came out on top.

Would you still buy an old iPad with a shiny iPad 2 on deck? My bet is that a lot of people will put off the purchase, whether they are buying an iPad for themselves or someone else.

If the rumors hold up, we're looking at a very minor upgrade to the iPad. Expect a thinner body, front-facing camera for FaceTime video chat, back-facing camera, USB port and maybe the iPhone 4's Retina display. The latter is probably the most compelling feature given the iPad's value as an entertainment device, although developers will be challenged to adjust to a massive spike in resolution.

FaceTime is a wild card upgrade: Video chat looks cool but hasn't really taken off yet among iPhone 4 owners. It's not the kind of thing that will drive people to the iPad 2. What about a camera? While a back-facing camera may be nice to have, the truth is that the form factor doesn't fit. That is, people won't grab the iPad first to take pictures with a mobile lens.

If the new features aren't going to convince people to wait for the iPad 2, what will? Consider it the blowback of Apple's marketing hype machine. Apple makes such a big deal about the newest thing that no one really wants the old thing. Just stand in the mind-numbingly long line at an Apple Store on the day of a product launch, and you'll know what I mean.

Getting an iPad now for someone would be like regifting last year's ugly sweater.

If you're in the market for an iPad yourself, you'll also hold out for the iPad 2. Let's face it, you've already demonstrated your willingness to wait, so what's a few more months? Besides, the holidays are for giving gifts to other people; gifts for you can slide into next year. And if you don't like the iPad 2, it's very likely Apple will slash the price of the old iPad. That's good news for your wallet, which is probably taking a beating right now.

Consumers expect Apple to cut prices of old models, which Apple has done with the iPhone 4 by reducing the cost of the iPhone 3GS to $99. By slashing prices, Apple is telling consumers that it's all about the new, because the old doesn't matter anymore.

With the iPad 2 rumor surfacing this week, the original iPad is now old at precisely the wrong time for Apple. Unfortunately for Apple, the rumor is the Grinch that stole the iPad Christmas.

Tom Kaneshige covers Apple and Networking for CIO.com. Follow Tom on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Tom at tkaneshige@cio.com.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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