Apple announces March media event

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iPad 3 launch event rumored for March

We Apple fans love to speculate, whether it’s about who makes Tim Cook’s shirts or when the company will release its next hotly anticipated device. For those more interested in the latter than the former—What’s wrong, issues of haberdashery not fascinating enough for you?—a report on Thursday suggests that you put a pin in the first week of March.

According to AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski—and confirmed by The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple in his usual terse style—Apple will launch the iPad 3 at an event in March, probably at Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, the same place it introduced both the iPad in 2010 and the iPad 2 in 2011. A Tuesday, if I had to guess. It’ll be a pleasant spring day with not a cloud in the sky, the birds chirping happily…

Whoops. I’m getting ahead of myself. Perhaps, you might be wondering, what evidence do I have to support this supposed event?

Well, I’m glad you asked, hypothetical reader. So far, the iPad has followed the pattern of the iPhone: The first-generation device is announced several months before shipping, while subsequent devices are announced roughly yearly from the original’s ship date—give or take a month—and shipped shortly thereafter. (Of course, the iPhone 4S ruined the iPhone’s pattern with an October launch, but given that it was the fifth model of iPhone, I don’t think the iPad’s likely to go down that path just yet.)

Like the iPhone, and the iPod before it, Apple has no qualms about releasing a new version of a device while the old one is still racking up atmospheric sales—in fact, the company has done so like clockwork ever since it axed the iPod mini in favor of the iPod nano. So there’s no reason to believe that Apple would just decide to, say, not release a new iPad this year.

Given that we’re still in early days for the iPad line, March seems to be the ideal time to release a new model: The iPad is still in everybody’s minds post holiday season, but it’s not so close to the release of the last model that iPad 2 owners will feel like they got a raw deal—by now, everybody expects Apple to release a newer, faster, better device each year. Plus, everybody who didn’t get an iPad 2 for Christmas can feel vindicated when they pick up the latest model.

As for what we might see in an iPad 3, AllThingsD piles on to the much-ballyhooed Retina display rumor, which would bump the iPad’s resolution to 2048-by-1536 pixels. Beyond that, I’d wager on better cameras, a version that works on Sprint’s network, and the debut of Apple’s next mobile processor, which I’m going to go out on a limb and dub the A6. I’ll also add a dash of my own speculation by suggesting that the iPhone 4S’s virtual assistant, Siri, might bow on the iPad 3. I don’t expect the device to change too much externally, though there might be some subtle refinements here and there.

There will, however, be one key difference at such an event: For the first time, it won’t be Steve Jobs introducing an iPad model. Expect instead to see some combination of Apple CEO Tim Cook, marketing chief Phil Schiller, and senior vice president of iOS software Scott Forstall share hosting duties in place of the late Apple co-founder, as they did at the iPhone 4S launch last October. While Apple’s executives have a tough act to follow, the company usually makes the smart decision of relying on the product to speak for itself.

We’ve still got some time to stew on all this: Should Apple indeed decide to hold an event the first week of March, we’d likely not find out until sometime in late February. Naturally, Macworld would be on hand to bring you live coverage of any hypothetical event, so until then, keep watching the skies.

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