When will the second-gen iPad arrive?

A lot of people like the iPad--and want to buy one--but don't like to buy first-generation products. So how long do we have to hold out for a second-generation model?

Back when the Palm Pre came out, I wrote an article about about first-gen jitters . I said that I usually follow a simple rule when it comes to consumer electronics: I avoid buying any first-generation products. That doesn't mean I haven't ever done it, but I tend to wait for generation two or three before I plunk down my dough, particularly when it comes to heavily hyped stuff.

I know a lot of people who are looking at the iPad in the same way. They're intrigued by it--and the price isn't too bad--but they're not quite ready to jump on the bandwagon until the iPad gets its rookie season out of the way and Apple tweaks it a bit, adding such features as a built-in camera (for video chat), an even faster processor, a bit more memory for your money, a tad better battery life, and perhaps a 4G wireless option.

When will you buy an iPad?

When will you buy an iPad?

Yes, the iPad has the advantage of looking better from a speeds and feats perspective than the original iPhone and iPod Touch did out the gate, but you know that Apple will improve the iPad sooner rather than later and it would kind of suck to be stuck with a first-gen model when gen-two is that much better. (I held out for the iPhone 3GS rather than buying the 2G or 3G models because I thought the iPhone had matured to the point where it made sense to finally buy one).

The iPad is a little trickier product to deal with because you could argue that it's more fully-baked than many first-gen products. Apple is on the third-generation of the iPhone operating system and not so far from releasing a fourth-gen OS (if Apple holds true to past form, it may be unveiled in late June), which should bring additional features to the iPad. And the company has a lot of experience developing touch-screen devices and optimizing performance and battery life.

But in many ways, whereas the whole tablet concept isn't new, the iPad is a new breed of device. For the first time a lot of people are going to buy these things, and it isn't quite clear how they're going to use them. Will it be a device that people carry around with them everywhere (like their phones) or will it be something they use more sparingly at home to read e-books and watch movies in bed (and maybe do a little e-mail or Web surfing)? Of course, the way Apple sees it, it's all of the above, but at the same time, there are inevitably going to be things you wish the iPad did that it can't do now and features you wish it had that it doesn't. And inevitably, they will be there in the next model.

So when should we expect to see a second-generation iPad? If I had to make a guess, I'd say we see a refresh in the fall. It may not be major, but if Apple really wants this product--and category--to take off, I don't think it can wait a year to update the hardware and must proceed aggressively. In June, we'll have some sort of new iPhone that will attract a huge amount of attention; by then, the iPad will seem like old news. So in October, to spur sales for the holiday season, Apple should bring the spotlight back to the iPad (and maybe the iPod Touch, which is due for a refresh).

Of course, this is all conjecture, and some will say that first-gen iPad buyers will be enraged with Apple for bringing out a new model so soon (remember the iPhone price drop in 2007?), but it won't be the end of the world. As everybody knows, that's the way things work in the electronics world. Something better is always going to come along; you just have to bake that into your buying decision and live with the consequences. Sometimes it turns out alright. Sometimes it doesn't.

What do you guys think? Should people wait for a gen-two iPad or is this model look just fine as is? And will Apple put out a second-gen iPad before the holiday season or wait till 2011?

 

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