Does Apple really need to launch iPad 3?

How much innovation will Apple offer for the next iteration of its iPad? How much does the company need to offer in order to make a new iPad exciting, given the paucity of current competition?

Do you want your new iPad to have a soft, seductive voice? Do you want that voice to tell you what the weather will be in Copenhagen tomorrow? Do you want her to send e-mails to your lover for you?

Apple, you see, is reportedly, allegedly, rumoredly announcing a new iPad in March .

Naturally, many speculate that this will be called the iPad 3, just as many speculated that the last year's iPhone would be the iPhone 5.

That turned out to be the iPhone 4S. So why shouldn't one believe that the new iPad will be the iPad 2 and a half?

So what's next? Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The iPhone 4S enjoyed improvements that amused the hard-core, dual-core tech community. But there was only one reason that it caught the imagination of real human beings. That reason was Siri, the occasionally moody personal assistant that makes you feel like Ari Gold.

Surely then, the first supposition would be that Siri would migrate to your iPad, so that you can demand the New York Times from her and she will purr and happily oblige.

My colleague David Carnoy believes that the new iPad will be at least 25 percent better . But I wonder if buyers truly think of percentages. What they need is for their imaginations to be captured, sometimes by an essence that might--to the deep-thinking techie--seem like nothing new at all.

Many insiders complained that Siri-type technology had been around for years. But Apple gave it humanity, character, and personality.

The question that is worth asking is, assuming Siri appears on the new iPad, how much more Apple needs to add to its new version. Perhaps even to the company's own surprise, the iPad's competition has rather floundered. It's as if they didn't see it coming--and, once it did, no one knew how to counter it.

When the first iPhone arrived, smartphones were already in considerable general use. The iPhone came a full four years after the BlackBerry began to be seen in offices and restrooms.

When the iPad arrived, it didn't so much enter a market (tablets had never really captured imaginations) but actually created one. This gave Apple an advantage that the company had rarely enjoyed.

Now, some speculate whether a Windows 8 machine might have more chance of breaking the iPad's hold on the collective soul than one of the many Android pretenders.

The new iPad (will Apple call it the iPad 2S?) may well have retina display, a better camera (do people really take pictures with their iPad?), and faster speed. These, though, are surely more marginal elements to many real people. They're not quite as magical as was the initial emergence of Siri.

Apple won't put anything into the new iPad that isn't thoroughly ready for very bright lights. But might the company inject some new magical element upon which to build excitement?

Might it be something so dastardly simple as a Siri that you can program to sound like your favorite screen hero or perhaps even your lover?

Yes, such speculations seem slightly silly. But human beings are slightly silly. In as seemingly comfortable position as Apple is with the iPad, the current aim might not be to re-invent, but to out-juke expectations with something of which no one has thought--something that might mesmerize real people.

It would be more than fun if Apple pulled that off. Somehow, gadgets are in danger of becoming a little dull. And we can't have that, can we?

 

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