Rumour-mongers, seemingly tired of talking about what the iPad 2 will or won't feature, have moved on to the third-generation iPad.
The first rumour originated yesterday from the guesswork of a technology blogger who speculated that HP's launch schedule for its new Touchpad might see the company come up against opposition from not just the iPad 2 but the iPad 3.
Daring Fireball's John Gruber said: "If my theory is right, they’re [HP] not only going to be months behind the iPad 2, but if they slip until late summer, they might bump up against the release of the iPad 3."
The guesswork of one blogger isn't exactly cast-iron insider information though, but TechCrunch's MG Siegler added further fuel to the fire in a separate report.
"A few days ago, we heard from a very good source that Apple was assembling the pieces for a 'big fall surprise'... We’ve now heard that this 'fall surprise' is related to this would-be iPad 3. We don’t have any more concrete information beyond that. But, as of right now, the plan is apparently to release one iteration of the iPad in the next few weeks. And then blow the doors open with another new version in the fall," Siegler wrote.
Siegler did admit, though, that the report "may sound a little crazy considering that the iPad 2 has not even been acknowledged or introduced by Apple yet".
Later, in a further post, Gruber outlined more of his thoughts about an iPad 3 announcement in September. "How could Apple release a third-generation iPad just six months or so after the second one? Maybe it won’t be an actual next generation model. Maybe it’s more like an iPad 2.5, or iPad 2 Pro — a new higher-end model that sits atop the iPad product family, not a replacement for the iPad 2 models." He also speculated that it could be an iPad 2 HD.
Despite these rumours, though, it seems inconceivable that Apple should launch an iPad 3 - even if it is more of an 'iPad 2.5' or 'iPad 2 Pro' - so soon after the iPad 2. Though Apple would never confirm its plans prior to a launch if rumours about an iPad 3 gather strength then many customers could be put off buying the yet-to-be-released iPad 2.
Secondly, there would be an outcry from those who did buy the iPad 2 if an iPad 3 came out so soon afterwards. In September 2007, customers who bought the original iPhone were outraged when three months after launch, Apple dropped the price of the 8GB version by $200. It is likely that there would be a similar backlash, and $100 of Apple Store credit for each angry customer might not be enough to quell it.
The iPad 3 rumour-mill may not be in full swing just yet, though there has been one other nugget of supposed information about the one-after-next-generation iPad already. Analyst firm IDC said that iPads beyond the iPad 2 could have a retina display, double the resolution of the first-generation model.