SAN FRANCISCO –
Apple’s new iPad breaks some new ground in the tablet industry, becoming the first tablet with 2,048 by 1,536 display resolution, 264-pixels- per-inch sharpness, and speak-to-type voice dictation.
In other ways, the new iPad played catch-up with select competitors by adding such features as 4G HSPA+ and LTE, 5-megapixel camera, camera face detection and 1080p video capture.
However you assess the product’s advances, analysts expect the device will help Apple maintain or possibly increase tablet share – at least through this year — despite rising competition from $199 Android alternatives from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, a growing selection of Android 4.0-based tablets with LTE, and the expected launch late this year or early next of ARM-based Windows 8-based tablets, which will share their OS with PCs and laptops.
Analysts also expect Apple to gain share by keeping the 16GB iPad 2 in the line and dropping its price by $100 to $399 for the Wi-Fi model and to $529 for the 3Gequipped versions for Verizon and AT&T.
Apple did not call the new product the iPad 3, referring to it only as the “new iPad.” It will be available March 16 in black and white with the same prices, 9.7-inch screen size, and memory capacities as the previousgeneration WI-Fi and 3G models.
“For me, the most important action is maintaining the iPad 2 in the market,” The NPD Grou’s industry analysis VP Stephen Baker told TWICE. “This indicates to me that they are looking to accelerate the adoption and ownership of the iPad in more demographics than can currently play today. It also allows them to be more competitive with other Android tablets and entry-level PCs as well, which is where the big volume opportunity is.”
U.K.-based IMS Research found that Apple dominated the world tablet PC market with a 62 percent share in 2011, and despite growing competition, forecast that Apple will boost its share to 70 percent in 2012, thanks to the introductions.
For its part, IHS iSuppli said the introductions will enable Apple “to retake some of the market share lost to Android competitors in the fourth quarter of 2011.” The research company forecasts that Apple’s 2012 share of global tablet shipments will hit 61 percent, up from 57 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011. Though it forecasts Apple’s full-year 2012 share to decline slightly from 2011’s 62 percent, “the company is set to maintain its majority position in the media tablet market into 2014, when it still will hold a 52 percent share of global shipments,” IHS iSuppli said.
“While not always first to market with a particular feature, Apple engineers are careful to select new attributes that are sure to improve the overall end-user experience,” said Rhoda Alexander, IHS tablet and monitor research senior manager. “None of the iPad competitors has demonstrated the capability to compete head to head with Apple at a premium price point,” she continued. “With the arrival Windows 8 on ARM microprocessors postponed to 2013, and most of the Android competitors now regrouping, IHS has lowered the media tablet forecast for Apple competitors in 2012.”
For his part, IMS PC analyst Gerry Xu expects Apple to gain share in part because of the “large customer base loyal to Apple products that have been waiting for the latest tablet.” Many iPad 1 owners “are also expected to upgrade to the latest release,” he added. In addition to consumer demand, he also forecast Apple share gains resulting from aggressive marketing into the enterprise and education markets.
To date, there is “no significant threat to the iPad’s continued dominance in the tablet market,” Xu said. “Only modest growth is forecast for non-iPad tablets,” and of these, Amazon’s Kindle Fire and several Win8 tablets, due in late 2012, are forecast to be most successful.
For his part, Ovum principal analyst Adam Leach expects Apple to “retain its market leading position through 2012” because “it will take time for Android 4.0 and Windows 8 based products to come to market.”
Longer term, the situation is different.
“Google has finally bridged the smartphone and tablet divide with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), offering developers a unified platform for the two types of device,” Leach said. “This should increase the number of tabletoptimized applications, which were notably absent from Android 3.0 (Honeycomb).”
In addition, “Microsoft’s introduction of Windows 8 on ARM [chips] and its shift away from Intel for tablets will drastically increase the company’s ability to compete on price point and user experience with Apple,” he said.
Among the enhancements in the new iPad are a faster dual-core A5X processor with quad-core graphics processing unit compared to the iPad 2’s A5 dual-core processor. The QXGA 2,048 by 1,536 resolution Retina display with 264 pixels per inch compares to the iPad 2’s XGA 1024x768 resolution.
In improving the back camera, Apple raised video capture from 720p/30 fps to 1080p/30 fps and added such features as autofocus, automatic white balance, face detection, f/2.4 lens and hybrid infrared filter to filter out IR rays for better color accuracy.
Battery life remains the same at 10 hours of web surfing and video playing over Wi-Fi and nine hours of web surfing via cellular. Thickness goes up slightly to 9.4mm for the Wi-Fi and 4G versions, from 8.8mm.
The AT&T version features 73Mbps 4G LTE in the 700MHz band and 4G HSPA+ 21Mbps and 4G 42Mbps DC-HSDPA in the AT&T 850/1,900MHz band and foreign 900/2,100MHz bands. The AT&T version of the iPad 2 offered 3G HSPA data.
The Verizon version gets expanded international roaming capabilities with the inclusion of HSPA+ and DCHSDPA and GSM/EDGE data in the 850/1,900MHz and 900/2,100MHz bands. In U.S. bands, the Verizon tablet operates in the 700MHz band for LTE and in 3G CDMA EV-DO Rev. A.