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An Old-Fashioned iPad Under the Tree?

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The next generation of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) trendsetting iPad tablet may be coming sooner than you think.

Taiwan's DigiTimes is reporting that component makers in that country have been told that the new iPad model could ship its first 400,000 to 600,000 units as early as late February.

If it's true, you certainly won't hear Apple confirming the report. It's just bad business to pre-announce the impending obsolescence of a hot-selling product. Apple is selling more than a million iPads a month, and that figure is bound to spike given this month's boost from holiday sales.

The last thing Apple wants is for Timmy to scratch an iPad off his list because he knows that a better version may be just two months away.

Then again, we probably should have seen this coming. Apple has accustomed fans to annual updates, and we're closing in on the early April anniversary of the original Wi-Fi-based iPad's debut.

Will the new iPad offer a digital camera for snapshots and FaceTime video chatting? Will Apple offer a card slot for easier incorporation of photos, videos, and productivity files? Will it come with a halo-wearing Steve Jobs bobblehead doll? There's certainly plenty of room to grow over the years.

A refreshed iPad may be just what Apple needs to hold back the competition. Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) will be introducing its tablet at a sub-$500 price point early next year. Samsung's Galaxy Tab cleared an impressive 600,000 units in its first month on the market, and has gone on to sell a million units in just two months. Based on Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) Android platform, the Galaxy's success has come despite packing a much smaller screen than the iPad. Barnes & Noble's (NYSE: BKS  ) new NOOKcolor, at a price point that is half the entry-level iPad, features a colorful touchscreen that makes it more tablet than e-reader. Dell's (Nasdaq: DELL  ) Inspiron Duo -- a laptop with a rotating screen to create a chunky tablet -- has its flaws, but it, too, may be eating into potential iPad holiday sales as the Swiss army knife in this niche.

In other words, the next few months are about to get pretty competitive. Apple's early lead is huge. It remains the tablet to top. However, if it is in fact rushing out iPad 2 before the original blows out its first birthday candle, it's a good indicator that Apple sees something in the competitive landscape that it wants to snuff out before it hurts.

If Timmy still wants the iPad, cave in. They're awesome. However, don't be surprised if you're kicking yourself when a better model comes out in two months with what will likely be a similar price point.

What do you think of Apple's iPad? Do you own one or will you be getting one for the holidays? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Google is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is starting to see more Apple products creep into his home lately. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2010, at 10:43 PM, ruger45 wrote:

    Yes, I plan on giving an iPad as a gift this Christmas. Why on Earth would I consider an iPad when something better is going to come along later? Well, for one, iPad is here right now, I already have it purchased, wrapped, and ready for delivery. It's real. Any number of products are promised to be "coming soon". Sadly, there will always be superior products in development, and on the way. But how much happiness can be had unwrapping a promisory note to buy you the best tablet available (just not the current best) as soon as somebody makes it. Another reason to buy now is because iPad, simply put, is the crown jewel of the tablet world. It is undeniably the most popular, most recognized device of it's type. There are people that will cite hareware comparisons and claim iPad is somehow inferior based on specifications. The truth is, few people care about specs, and rightfully so. What matters is how polished the user experience is, how many apps are available, how much 3rd party support there is for the product. The truth is, Apple is so dominant in those criteria that it's difficult to even compare to the number 2 device....does anyone even know what the number two device is? Of course not, because everyone if focused on the number 1 iPad. Surely Apple will release a new version this spring. That makes the current version no less fun, no less relevant. New iPad may add a few new features, but the current product is here right now, and it's breathtaking. Go ahead and buy one. It's guaranteed to make somebody's Christmas fantastic.

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2010, at 3:05 AM, nontechie wrote:

    Who the heck wants to try to take pictures with something size of an iPad? If you want a camera and/or want FaceTime video-conferencing, get an iPhone and maybe by February you'll be able to get one from Verizon.

    By the way, the existing iPad does multitask with iOS 4.2 (finally) and it has an inexpensive adapter that both gives it a USB port and a card-reader. But that USB port isn't supported for anything other than uploading pictures and video from your camera. I believe it would be a software "fix" to make it more useful but I don't expect Apple to supply it--they never did on the original Apple TV or on the Time Capsule. Perhaps an "ap" will do so.

    To me, the biggest real deficiency of the iPad is its inability to deal with Flash video/graphics. I'm a huge fan of all things Apple but it is really annoying how many web sites are almost useless when viewed by a device that can't handle Flash. But I'm afraid this is another thing that Apple won't fix because of Steve Jobs's biases.

  • Report this Comment On December 09, 2010, at 7:24 AM, foolindeed1 wrote:

    Nook Color from Barnes & Noble has a new generation of screen with anti-glare coating which is much better than iPad's for viewing/reading in various lighting conditions. Oh, and it costs $249 with USB port, SDK released, 512 MB of RAM, and ability to read any of over 2 million eBooks via provided for free Wi-Fi in any B&N store.

    According to the news reports, B&N is on schedule to ship out over 1 million units by the end of 2010 that is a little over one months since the product started to ship. iPad doesn't have a chance.

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