I'm starting to feel sorry for Apple. No, really. While the company prides itself on a "veil of secrecy," loose-lipped parts suppliers and the ever vigilant Apple-ologists are eternally looking in the shadows and dishing the dirt about Apple's next big thing.
Yes, Apple just announced a press conference for next Wednesday in San Francisco, touted with the invite hint "We have something you really have to see. And touch."
But truth is, an insider shared this conference date weeks ago. And who doesn't know what that coded message is all about - a slightly thicker, third generation iPad tablet with a new breed of LED-backlit screen boasting 4 times the pixels of today's iPad 2. So print, pictures, games and videos should look super. We've also gotten wind of its lighter/thinner Gorilla 2 glass face plate, faster quad-core processor, double-sized battery, improved cameras and support (on some models) for faster 4G/LTE connection to Verizon and AT&T networks.
Throwing gas on the fire, Best Buy and Radio Shack have just dropped the prices of iPad 2s as much as $50, to clear the decks for the new models. The retailers don't do that without official supplier approval. (Will older iPads stay in the line at lower prices? We're hoping.) And buyers/resellers of used gear, like Gazelle, have been hitting this writer hard with "story ideas" about how now's the time to trade in that iPad, to still get "top dollar."
So what the hell is Apple CEO Tim Cook going to do to "surprise" the crowd at the press conference next week? Does he have a cagey "one more thing" to share, a bomb like Steve Jobs used to drop towards the end of his conferences?
The news - well, now it won't be quite so newsie to all - could be the simultaneous introduction of a refreshed Apple TV box that will wirelessly connect to the new iPad via the new, much faster Bluetooth 4.0 communications format which supports lag-free 1080p high definition streaming.
Enabled by a Broadcom chip and the just-unveiled iOS 5.1 operating system, Bluetooth 4.0 also will go live in the iPhone 4S and latest MacBook Air and Mac Mini computers.
While the folks at 9to5Mac.com who've dug up this dirt aren't speculating, it's easy to imagine some of the cool things you'll be able to do with the newfangled iPad 3 (or its siblings) and Apple TV box connected to your big screen HD display. Essentially, we're thnking video variations on the AirPlay wireless audio streaming feature already in iProducts.
Imagine wirelessly "throwing" Face Time video calls, digital stills and videos onto the big screen from your iPad. Or transfering the visuals of video games onto the big TV, so that the second screen resting in your lap might now function just as a controller (stealing a page from the forthcoming Nintendo Wii-U.) And all manner of web sites that you capture on the iPad could likewise be "beamed" to Apple TV and then onto the big screen.
Just pipe dreams? We'll know, soon enough. But this iPad 3 buyer is budgeting an extra $100 for a new-gen Apple TV box, just in case.