Next week, Apple is going to release something special, something new…and something we’ve been predicting for a while.
The company sent out invites today to the March 7 event and they were accompanied by a picture showing a finger touching what looks to be an iPad. The updated device will, by most reports, use a super high-resolution screen. The picture alone is a dead giveaway, since the screen looks super crisp.
So what does that mean for business? For starters, a high-res screen means every app, movie, business calendar item, text message, and Keynote presentation will be easier on the eyes. And by easier, I mean with a resolution of 2048 x 1536 pixels, or about twice that of the iPad 2. Your eye cannot perceive pixels at that density, so everything will look smooth, colorful, and clear.
That’s critical if you tend to use a tablet all day. It’s even more critical because there are few notable differences between the iPad 1 and the iPad 2 (a camera and a faster processor, mainly), and some marginal differences between the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S (a faster processor and the Siri voice recognition system).
On the iPad 3, a high-res display will turn heads, literally. And that helps if you've got to justify the cost of buying these tablets for employees. The iPad 3 will have a longer shelf-life.
It will also use a much faster processor as well, likely the same one in the iPhone 4S. That means business apps like Evernote will run faster, which also means you might not need to use a laptop on business trips as often. A new high-res camera will likely round-out the hardware features.
Rob Enderle, an analyst with Enderle Group, says Apple may finally have the trifecta they need to lure small businesses. He told me that Apple already has the most well-curated app store. But some business users have stayed away from the iPad because they view it as not quite business ready.
“The current generation lacks both the screen resolution customers now want and the performance they need,” says Enderle. “The new iPad 3 is expected to address both of these shortcomings making it more useful and thus more attractive to business than the iPad 2 was.”
Of course, the competition has also gained ground. There isn’t one particular Android tablet that business loves, but there are dozens of models available. Collectively, they have not put much of a dent in iPad sales, but that could change as more businesses switch to the Android smartphone. Eventually, they may decide to keep everything “in the family” and use the same apps on Android tablets.
Apple also needs a home run. There’s a perception now that the company may falter if they don’t release an absolutely astounding product that shoots them into the stratosphere again.