Rumors surfaced this week that the iPad 2, widely expected to be released in April, might slip to June due to bottlenecks at Apple’s contract manufacturer Hon Hai, according to Taiwanese brokerage Yuanta Securities. Following fast on the heels of this rumor, a source “familiar with the matter” told Reuters that an iPad 2 delay is untrue.
Today, AllThingsD is reporting that Apple will hold its iPad 2 event on March 2, according to multiple sources. “Now that this date is confirmed—at least by me!—the next round of speculation will be around whether Apple CEO Steve Jobs will appear or not,” writes AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher.
What’s the big deal about a potential two-month delay of the next-generation iPad? Such a delay doesn’t sound like much, yet underscores the race to deliver powerful tablets this year. The race was kicked off at the Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month with more than 80 Android tablets poised to hit the market.
Many consumers put off purchasing a first-generation iPad in order to wait and see how the market reacted to the product (as well as let Apple work out the bugs in the original iPad). With the iPad’s amazing adoption, these consumers have been waiting eagerly for the iPad 2.
Even if the iPad 2 is delayed, there won’t be much impact on sales, says technology analyst Rob Enderle. “It is only two more months, and they’ve waited this long,” he says. “They’ll likely just wait longer.”
Will an Apple delay open up a window of opportunity for the Android tablet invasion? That’s unlikely, too, Enderle says. “Many still won’t show up until the second half of the year,” he says. “This market tends to be weighted, in terms of sales, toward ‘back to school’ and year-end holiday season. So it shouldn’t hurt Apple’s annual budget much. It would get painful if [the iPad 2] slipped to October, but that doesn’t appear likely.”
Then there’s always the possibility that Apple orchestrated the delay rumor, counter-rumor and now event date. Apple has used rumors and leaks in the past to build consumer anticipation and to squash other rumors that weren’t aligned with its plans.
For instance, John Gruber of Daring Fireball predicted earlier this month that Apple will release a third-generation iPad just six months or so after the iPad 2 release. The backdrop behind the rumor is that Apple really needs to build a better iPad display (High Def) in order to maintain its lead in the suddenly red-hot tablet market.
But a delay in the iPad 2 (or even rumors of a delay) makes an iPad 2 HD hitting the market in the same year a virtual impossibility.
If there really is a two-month delay—and I highly doubt it—this would put the iPad 2 in the same timeframe as the iPhone 5, expected to be released this summer. (See what iFixit expects to see in iPad 2 and iPhone 5: What’s Coming.)
Could we see the iPad 2 and iPhone 5 launched on the same day? “When Apple tries to do multiple products, their ability to create excitement is reduced on each,” Enderle says. “However, this may indicate that they hope to have Jobs on stage at the launch. If that is the case, the delay may be worth it.”
Tom Kaneshige has been covering business and technology in Silicon Valley for two decades. As senior online writer at CIO.com, Tom covers Silicon Valley culture, BYOD and consumer tech in the enterprise.