Will 4G iPad 3 leave Britain trailing?
Apple is reportedly planning to unveil a 4G-enabled version of its iPad tonight – years before Britain will have an operational 4G network.
The newest iPad will be capable of operating on a 4G Long Term Evolution network, according to a source familiar with the product. At speeds roughly 10 times faster than current 3G technology, that will help deliver mobile video to the iPad 3’s ultra high resolution “Retina” display. Indeed, rumours suggest the device will in fact be called the iPad HD.
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However, the inclusion of 4G support will mean little to British users, who are likely years away from a commercial rollout of 4G. Ofcom won’t auction the necessary spectrum until the end of this year, at the very earliest, with industry experts claiming it will take at least another year after the sell-off for full-scale 4G deployments to begin.
Until now, Apple’s customers have been reluctant to shell out extra money even for iPads with 3G connections. The cheaper Wi-Fi-only model is by far the top-selling one today.
“It’s going to dramatically improve video consumption,” said UBS analyst John Hodulik. “This is the device people want. They want the fastest speed. They want high resolution.”
Apple declined to comment.
The Cupertino, California-based consumer device company is gearing up to unveil the iPad 3 on Wednesday, a faster and better-equipped version intended to thwart increasing competition from rivals such as Samsung and Amazon.
The new iPad will be “critical” to Apple if it is to continue to dominate the global tablet market, said Frost & Sullivan’s analyst, Phil Harpur.
“A lot will depend how receptive the market is to the new features offered by iPad 3, two of which are believed to be quad-core processing and 4G-LTE capabilities,” he said. “While iPad 2 offered only minor incremental upgrades, this time the market will be expecting a lot more.”
While Apple is not breaking new ground with LTE – both Motorola and Samsung have already released 4G-enabled tablets in the US – it may play a big hand in the technology’s take off, because of the popularity of its iPad platform.
The unveiling at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, where the company also introduced the last two iPad generations, will be Chief Executive Tim Cook’s second major product launch, after the iPhone 4S unveiling last year at the company’s headquarters.
The smartphone was initially a disappointment as it was perceived to be mostly a software upgrade, but Siri, its voice-enabled personal assistant technology, helped to make it a bestseller.
The company, legendary for keeping its agenda under wraps, has not said what it plans to reveal but invited speculation with its cryptic event invitation, graced by a partial image of an iPad screen and the tagline: “We have something you really have to see. And touch.”
Some predict an upgrade of the Apple TV, one of the rare company products that has not seen mass adoption. Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said the “see and touch” reference was “very curious.”
“An upgrade of the Apple TV set-top-box is possible as well as a remote chance for an iTV television set due to a reference to a large screen size,” Misek said in a note to clients, adding that it was possible that Apple could also announce an actual TV despite not having a finished product.