The buzz is around that on Wednesday in an event in San Francisco, Apple hinted that it will release its next iPad model with an updated tablet equipped with a speedier processor, a sharper screen and an option for faster wireless broadband access.
If last year’s launch of the iPad 2 is any guide, the new iPad model will go on sale in the U.S. next week, likely on Friday.
The upgrade from the iPad 2 to the iPad 3 will be less significant than the upgrade from the original iPad to the iPad 2, which added two cameras while cutting both the thickness and the weight of the device.
One big unknown is whether Apple will keep the iPad 2 in production and offer it at a lower price, like it kept the iPhone 3GS after the launch of the iPhone 4.
Another big question is whether Apple will reveal its rumored foray into making TV sets. Some have speculated that the invite to the Apple event, which said “We have something you really have to see,” points in that direction.
Apple already sells and “Apple TV.” It’s not a TV, but a small box that attaches to a television set to display movies and play music from iTunes.
The iPad launch comes as Apple has reached a rare milestone: Last week, it was worth more than $500 billion. Only six other U.S. companies have been worth that much, and none have held that valuation for long. On Tuesday, Apple’s stock fell, bringing its market value down to $493 billion, but analysts believe the company is worth closer to $550 billion.