Will iPad transition from product to product line?

Will iPad transition from product to product line?

We've been arguing for while now here at TiPb about whether Apple will leave the iPad as a singular product, the way iPhone and iPod touch are, or transition it to a product line, the way MacBooks are?

So far Apple has resisted even leaving last year's model available as a cheaper 8GB entry-level model, the way they've done with the iPhone since iPhone 3G and experimented with one year with the iPod touch 2.

There were rumors earlier this year that Apple might push up the release iPad 3 (or iPad 2 Pro) to this fall, resulting in two iPads being available -- the still current iPad 2 and the more expensive, Retina Display version. According to TiPb's sources, however, has since moved iPad 3 back to the traditional spring release schedule, perhaps because those Retina Displays can't yet be produced cheaply or consistently enough to meet Apple's demand.

When iPad 3 is released next year, will Apple take the opportunity to leave iPad 2 on the market, perhaps at a cheaper $399 for 8GB price point? That's a small step towards making a product into a product line.

The bigger leap would be multiple screen sizes. 7 inch tablets have been released by Samsung and BlackBerry, was going to be released by HP webOS, and rumor has it will soon be released by Amazon. None other than Steve Jobs has said Apple doesn't like the 7 inch size, that it's not a great experience, that it required people to shave down their fingers. But he also said people didn't want to watch video on their iPods and we all know how that turned out...

What about a bigger screen size? Samsung already makes pretty much every sized tablet from 5 to 11 inches -- in 1/2 inch increments! -- but much larger tablets still haven't really been tested. If rumors of Apple stretching the Retina Display on iPhone 5 to 3.7 or 4 inches turn out to be true, could they try to stretch the rumored Retina Display on an iPad 3 (or iPad 3 Pro) to 12 inches? I know, speculation based on rumors stacked that high is the blogging equivalent of playing Jenga on top of unicorns riding on rainbows, but...

That's about the only other factor I can see Apple exploring. They don't even disclose processor or RAM details, so a product line based on those things don't really make any sense -- you'll never shop for an iPad the way you shop for a Dell. Part of Apple's strength and success has always been its crystal clear product lines. Right now there's one iPad and all you have to choose is front color, storage size and Wi-Fi or 3G.

Next year, could it be budget iPad 2 8GB or iPad 3 (by color, size, and radio), or could it be more? 7 inches for highly mobile readers, 9.7 inches for general purpose multitaskers, and 12 inches for professionals who push pixels or productivity? Next year, could the iPad go from product to product line? If the iPad is increasingly becoming the future of mainstream computing, will it have to?

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Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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Reader comments

Will iPad transition from product to product line?


With a product like the iPad, having only 8GB is pointless... the average size of iPad apps is larger so you would barely be able to put a good amount of apps on it.... which is frustrating.
Going bigger than 9.7 inches for an iPad? Overkill in my opinion. I would take a 3G iPad at 7 inches in a heartbeat though. $299? Hell-yes please.

Not only is 8gb pointless, I think 16gb is starting to become pointless also.
I think going a little bit bigger than 9.7 inches may not be that bad. Make the screen bigger but decrease the bezel to keep the iPad the same size.

8gb makes perfect sense when you remember that iCloud is coming soon. 10 years from now we'll laugh at how we used to carry our "stuff" around with us at all times.

Expect iCloud is different. I suguest you read up on it little man. Maybe YOU will laugh kid, but many will still want to carry their stuff around.

I still think 7" is no more portable than iPad's current 9.7". Sure, there are pockets big enough to hold a 7" pad. But probably not enough to interest Apple.
I think there's room at the high end for a new iPad model. Maybe a 12" model with near-Retina pixel density. Maybe 2048x1536. Call it the iPad HD, not the "iPad Pro."

iPad HD sounds nice, but it needs a lot more then just a large screen. I'm taking about expandable memory, better speakers (at least two) etc

I could see them merging the iPad and iPod touch lines. Maybe even the iPhone since all of them have iOS.

If it ain't broken don't fix it has been Apple's moto. Nothing will change as long they are dominating the market. If I was then, I would keep the original iPad and drop it down to 8 gb for $299 to counter the cheaper tablets flooding the market. Keep iPad 2 @ 16 & 32 gb for $399. I know alot of folks that would still buy the first iPad for their young kids (look at Craiglist if you don't believe me).

Kenny's right! i checked it out. first Generation iPad's and Massages are all that are being posted over at Craigslist..:)

Imagine a far off flung future with a very large tablet as a professional workstation. Something large enough for content creation and almost too large to be considered portable. It wasn't that long ago that no one would have considered laptops replacing a desktop systems. As a graphic design I would kill for a large touchscreen system with that ability to do what I now use Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign for.

If apple makes the 32GB model for the iPad3 as their new entry model.....man, not only there's going to be a lot of smiling customers like me, apple could really profit from this and sell big. A lot people like me are getting bored and not liking these 8GB, and 16GB entry models anymore. 32GB should be the new standard. Apple should make a new line of GB. 32GB, 64GB, and 128GB. Cant wait to watch the iPad 3 presentation next year early 2012! There's gonna be something new that we've seen before from Apple. Plus, I also want to see how Tim Cook presents the iPad 3 and how much charisma he has.

GlennRuss is right.. bad designs will not be bought.
I think there is a sweet spot. and they will move with the ipad. not the phone. phones cannot get bigger... can they??

IPads of the future will come in multiple screen sizes. The sizes will approximate current laptop and desktop screen sizes along with larger TV and information monitor sizes.
IOS and OSX will merge and the iPad will be the form factor of the future for Mac computing.

I'll say $299 for 16GB Wi-Fi iPad 2, $399 for 16GB Wi-Fi + 3G iPad 2 & 32GB Wi-Fi only iPad 3, $499 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G iPad 3 & 64GB Wi-Fi only iPad 3, and $599 64GB Wi-fi + 3G iPad 3. They really would benefit in terms of lots of users if they transitioned the iPad to a product line; maybe THIS is the "product transition we won't talk about today" from the last earnings call, and not the iPhone product transition we all assumed?