Apple Event: Will iPad 2 Be Unveiled March 2?

PHOTO: Apple announced Feb. 23, 2011 that it will hold a special media event on March 2, and industry watchers widely believe that the topic of the day will be Apples iPad 2.PlayCourtesy Apple
WATCH The New iPad

Is Apple's newest iPad on its way?

The company announced this morning that it will hold a special media event on March 2 in San Francisco, and industry watchers widely believe that the topic of the day will be Apple's iPad 2.

The text on the event's invitation merely says, "Come see what 2011 will be the year of." But the artwork hints at a bit more: Designed to look like a calendar page, the invitation boasts a giant "2."

The number no doubt refers to the date of the event, but may also tease the second-generation iPad. The upper right corner of the calendar image also peels back to reveal the corner of what could only be an iPad.

Speculation about Apple's newest iPad has been running high for weeks, and the announcement of the media event only adds fuel to the fire.

Given CEO Steve Jobs' medical leave and recurring reports of his ailing health, Apple followers will also be watching for an appearance by Jobs or even a mention of the elusive CEO during the event.

iPad 2 to Join Growing Field of Tablet Computers

When Apple unveiled its first iPad last January, it was the first to market in the tablet computer field. But the iPad 2 will face competition, as Motorola, BlackBerry's Research in Motion and others unveil their own attempts at tablet-like mobile devices.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, previously told that he expected the new iPad to feature a faster dual-core processor and full 4G support on AT&T and Verizon.

He also said that the new device is expected to be flatter, lighter and sturdier than the original and include a front-facing camera to enable video conferencing.

Apple shares dipped Tuesday after rumors that shipments of the new iPad might be delayed, but they rebounded Wednesday, presumably boosted by the official announcement of next week's Apple event.

Citing an analyst with the Taiwanese financial services company Yuanta Securities, Bloomberg reported Tuesday that the iPad might be delayed to June from April because of "production bottlenecks" at Apple manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry. But given Apple's confirmed media event next week, analysts seemed reassured that the iPad would be arriving on time.

"It seems unlikely," said Enderle about the delay rumors. "The fact that they're going ahead with the event suggests that they will have product in the market relatively close to the event. ... I think setting the expectation that it is an iPad would indicate that the rumors of the delay are just that and they're like to release the product."

Earlier this month, rumors started to fly that Apple might release not just one, but two, iPads this year.

After reports that Apple's iPad 2 was already in production, two popular tech blogs wrote about the possibility of an iPad 3 hitting the market later this year.

Could an iPad 3 Follow iPad 2?

On his site, Daring Fireball, technology blogger John Gruber said he suspected that after shipping an iPad 2 as early as April, after a March announcement, Apple could ship an iPad 3 in September. The TechCrunch blog joined the discussion too.

Although he acknowledged that two iPads in the same year would be an unusual move for Apple, Gruber said that given the growing competition in the field (from Hewlett-Packard, Google, Motorola, Research in Motion and others), Apple would want to stay ahead of its rivals.

"Thus, my gut feeling is that Apple will move the iPad to a September release schedule, alongside the iPods," he said. "But they wouldn't want to wait over a year and a half from the announcement of the original iPad to announce the second one — not with these stakes, and not with so many serious competitors trying their best to catch up."

TechCrunch said a source told it that a "fall surprise" from Apple is connected to another new version of the iPad.

When reached by at the time, an Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

Enderle said that if Apple thinks its iPad is falling behind rivals, it could roll out a third version earlier than next year. But he said he hasn't heard anything indicating that might happen.

"They might if the iPad 2 technology execution appears to be falling behind what is going on with regard to Android and other competing products," he said. "I do know that Apple is very confident about the iPad 2 and outspoken about it. And we pretty much know now what all the competitors will have, so it would be unusual for [Apple] to be unconfident. "