Even as the Patriots' hopes and dreams were strangled in the Super Bowl, the iOSsphere rumors for iPad 3 mounted anew on wings like eagles.
This week: pictures that prove iPad 3 will have a quad-core CPU and LTE even though you can't see either of them, or even the iPad 3, in the pictures; the February surprise, unsurprisingly, will not happen; understanding how the choice of MacBook Air processor means iPad 3 will have a hardware keyboard option; and a blogger thinks its news that a market watcher thinks the iPad 3 will be very popular.
You read it here second.
"Macotakara has had a mixed track record in the past, but has had enough hits that they continue to warrant attention."
~Arnold Kim, MacRumors, on why the Website trumpeted a rumor started by the Japanese Website Macotakara that iPad 3 will be announced in February. And, presumably, on why it will continue trumpeting.
iPad 3 has an A6 processor because pictures prove it, even if they don't show it
Talk about news. "Photos show quad-core iPad 3 processor, Wi-Fi and global LTE options," proclaims the headline at Boy Genius Report (or BGR, "the three biggest letters in tech").
And sure enough there are photos, four all told. These are not photos of the actual iPad 3. Instead, they are screen shots from a "development and debug tool called iBoot," writes Jonathan Geller, which supposedly reveals a wealth of details about the next iPad. (For what it's worth, the iPhoneWiki says "iBoot" is the name for "Apple's stage 2 bootloader for all of the iDevices.")
The BGR photos are from a "source claiming to be in possession of an iPad 3 prototype," Geller writes, and assures us that "we can infer plenty of information about the upcoming iPad 3."
A rather obvious question seems to be: If the source actually has a prototype, why isn't he sending photos of the actual device instead of cryptic debug output? (Possibly he left it in a beer garden and doesn't have it anymore.)
The key word here is not "quad-core" or "LTE" but "infer," which according to one definition means to "deduce or conclude (information) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements." Geller seems to infer rather freely.
According to him, the four photos show the following:
a) Two model numbers, J1 and J2 (which he also designates iPad3,1 and iPad3,2; he doesn't explain how the two different nomenclatures are related);
b) The two models are a Wi-Fi-only device, and one that adds "embedded GSM/CDMA/LTE for all carriers;"
c) And, "confirmation" that iPad 3 will have an A6 processor "with model number S5L8945X" which is "also apparently a quad-core model...."
The only problem with this is that the four photographs that accompany Geller's paragraph-long story show almost none of this information, and certainly not enough for inferences, at least as far as Rollup could determine. Inexplicably, large parts of each photo have fields that are deliberately blurred to obscure the text. But equally inexplicably, Geller doesn't mention this and doesn't say if BGR or BRG's source is responsible for it.
The only references we could find in the four photos that relate to Geller's claims are the following:
Picture #2 has near the top: "iBoot for j1ap" (which perhaps could indicate the J1 model Geller claims).
Picture 3 has at the bottom: "/DEVELOPMENT_ARM_S5L8945X" (which could indeed indicate an ARM processor; Geller references the numbers for the A4 and A5 chips, but the question is whether this new number indicates an entirely new processor or a variant of the dual-core A5 currently in the iPad 2).
Picture 4 has, at the bottom: "machine model "iPad 3, 1","; which certainly is a reference to iPad 3 and could refer to one model.
There's nothing we could find in the published photos that indicates LTE, let alone a global LTE option; and nothing that in fact actually "confirms" a quad-core processor. The "two models" are what we would expect based on how Apple has configured iPad so far: you can buy it with just a Wi-Fi connection, or with an additional embedded cellular connection. Did we miss something?
This is like viewing a grainy photo of Janet Jackson's 2004 Super Bowl Wardrobe Malfunction and concluding she's had an appendectomy, two dental crowns, and a butterfly tattoo at the base of her spine.
Forget about iPad 3 for February
So much for a great Valentine's Day or a great Steve Jobs Birthday.
Last week, the iOSsphere seethed with anticipation after rumor outlets liked what they read at the Japanese Mac fan site Macotakara, which claimed that Apple was holding a special event in February, with release of iPad 3 planned for March.
The Loop's ace Apple-watcher Jim Dalrymple single-handedly shredded those hopes.
"This is not going to happen, according to my sources. Apple will not hold an event in February, unusual or otherwise. That's it."
One of the sites picking up on Macotakara's rumor was MacRumors, where Arnold Kim justified its coverage this way: "We had expressed some doubts about the long lead time between [February] event and [March] launch. Macotakara has had a mixed track record in the past, but has had enough hits that they continue to warrant attention."
You may not be right all the time, but you're right enough for rumors.
iPad 3 will have a keyboard option because Apple won't use ARM chips in MacBook Air
What started out as an honest attempt to tease out some implications of a few general statements by Apple CEO Tim Cook has turned into full-blown rumor.
"Apple's recent statement that it may not introduce ARM-based Macs in the future has led CNET to believe that Apple's highly anticipated iPad 3 may arrive with a keyboard option," declared Ambrosia Sabrina, rumoring for International Business Times.
That might come as a surprise to CNET columnist Brooke Crothers, who was a lot less definite in his recent column, "iPad-like MacBook Air now unlikely? Was it even necessary?" As the headline suggests, Crothers was mainly writing about the Air, not the iPhone.
Crothers took as his starting point yet another Wall Street analyst's note, this one released last Friday by Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner, who had met with Cook and Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer the day before. Crothers quoted this excerpt from Gardner's note:
"Tim Cook reiterated his view that rapid innovation on the iOS platform (and mobile OS platforms in general) will significantly broaden the use case for tablets, eventually pushing annual tablet volumes above those of traditional PCs. We [that is, Citigroup's Gardner] have wondered whether Apple might offer an ARM-based version of MacBook Air [MacBooks currently use Intel CPUs] at some point; we walked away from this meeting with the impression that Apple feels iPad satisfies -- or will soon satisfy -- the needs of those who might have been interested in such a product."
Cook's view is hardly new. In earnings calls for at least the last two quarters, he has said Apple is seeing iPad sales taking the place of some Mac sales ("cannibalization"), but taking many more from Windows PC sales. And many observers have thought for some time that tablets will replace laptops as the device of choice for many end users.
Crother extends Gardner's comment, to speculate that if the iPad becomes increasingly capable, this trend will accelerate. "So, if the iPad line indeed meets this need, as Citigroup's Gardner said, what is Apple cooking up? Here are some thoughts..."
Crother floats three thoughts: first, hardware upgrades to iPad, including a quad-core processor, higher-resolution screen, and LTE option, that put it more on a performance par with laptops; second, a "more elegant physical keyboard solution for the iPad from Apple" possibly like the separate, slot-in keyboard Asus developed for its Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime; and third, new iPad models that might be different sizes.
IBT's Sabrina doesn't care much for nuance. "As Gardner clearly stated that the iPad would soon satisfy the needs of an ARM MacBook, it's quite likely that Apple's forthcoming tablet may be launched with a keyboard dock option...," she declares confidently, breezily reinterpreting Crother's speculation into definite rumor.
Speculation that Apple might switch to ARM-based processors for its Mac and MacBook lines is not news. Responding in May 2011 to assertions at SemiAccurate.com, that Apple's decision to switch to ARM from Intel was a "done deal," Ars Technica's Chris Foresman, argued to the contrary: "Apple could adopt ARM for laptops, but why would it?"
"With no clear performance or efficiency benefit derived from moving to ARM, it doesn't seem likely Apple will be ditching Intel wholesale for its notebooks, even two years from now," Foresman wrote. But, he, too, speculated that some future MacBook Air, given Apple's announced iOS-ification of the Mac OS X, could be ARM-based.
"iOS is clearly the future of Apple's operating system efforts, so if iOS slowly overtakes Mac OS X, and users become accustomed to some of these [performance and other tablet-related] constraints, it seems entirely possible that Apple could build a MacBook Air using a higher-performance A5 descendant that works less like what we're used to today and perhaps more like the iPads of the future — with a keyboard attached," Foresman wrote.
iPad 3 will, uh, be bought by a lot of people
It's good to get this kind of thing settled early, in case there are any doubters.
"Third-gen iPad's 'window of opportunity' expected to drive Apple market share gains," AppleInsider breathlessly revealed.
This insight is based on a rumor (or "note" as it's ingenuously called) to investors, this time sent by Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore.
"Apple's third-generation iPad is expected by one market watcher to soon arrive during an advantageous 'window of opportunity,' in which competitors have nothing significant to offer, that will further increase the company's lead in the mobile computing market," writes AppleInsider's Neil Hughes, analyzing the analyst's analysis.
This appears to be the Window of Opportunity that Apple threw wide open in 2010, when it released the first iPad, and which hasn't been closed since.
The post includes a chart, created by Whitmore, that shows Apple's tablet market share trend compared to five other tablet vendors, such as Asus, Acer, Dell, HP, etc. Hint: Apple is the one that goes up; all the others go down.
So, Hughes lets us know that Whitmore thinks that iPad 3 is probably going to continue that trend.
Whitmore says that "the line between tablets and notebook computers is rapidly blurring as devices like the iPad become more powerful," Hughes writes. The more powerful iPad has been around for less than a year. And the first one was pretty zippy to most users. To Rollup, it seems more accurate to say that the line between tablets and notebooks is blurring simply because people are finding more things to do with the iPad.
The Wall Streeter recycles a bunch of standard expectation for iPad 3: a high-resolution display, a quad-core CPU ("more powerful"), improved graphics performance (which may be more important than raw CPU power), and Siri voice control.
Even if it doesn't have any of those things, it will probably sell like gangbusters, because the world is still waiting for other computer vendors to come up with something even half as compelling as iPad.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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