Though Apple fans were surprised by the announcement of the iPad 4 during yesterday's big event, one expert predicts the company will turn around and release another thinner, lighter iPad early next year.
During the event, Apple announced a host of new products, including an iPad mini along with the fourth full-sized iPad. But according to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst for KGI Securities, that might not be enough to fend off Microsoft's new Surface tablet.
Kuo wrote in a note to investors that Apple may feel pressured to launch a 9.7-inch iPad to cement its lead in the tablet business.
"Though the iPad mini is expected to be successful, we think launching the lighter, thinner 9.7-inch iPad as quickly as possible matters more for Apple strategically," Kuo wrote.
The Surface surfaces
The Surface may challenge Apple's tablet dominance as Microsoft tries to move into the post-PC world.
Championing the new touch-friendly OS, Windows 8 RT, the Surface boasts a 10.6-inch screen and is pretty light and thin. It can also be magnetically attached to a keyboard/cover for a more laptop feel.
Microsoft's Surface might just have the mojo needed to wrestle the tablet crown from the iPad. But according to Kuo, Apple is looking to hedge its bets.
Considering the iPad 4 is the same weight, thickness and price point as its predecessor, it's very possible Apple is looking to produce a slimmed-down version.
Apple did give the iPad 4 a new A6X processor system-on-a-chip, which claims to be twice as fast as the last iPad.
It also gained the new lightning connector and better LTE support. But that's all the new features iPad fans will get with the fourth-gen tablet.
Kuo expects Apple to pack "GF DITO" (or GF2) touchscreen technology into the speculative iPad. GF2 is already used in the new iPad mini, which helps to make it 23 percent thinner and 53 percent lighter than its bigger brother.
Trading in those 'old' iPad 3s
People seem to be pretty excited about these new iPads.
NextWorth, a company that buys used gadgets from those looking for cash to upgrade their devices, reported a more than 1,000 percent increase in the volume of trade-ins for all iPads after the new iDevices were announced.
Since Tuesday, 66 percent of those tablets being traded in are iPad 3s, 28 percent iPad 2s, and original iPads accounted for only 6 percent. It looks like people are already sick of their iPad 3s, which was just released last spring.
Though there is no telling whether those people will upgrade to the iPad 4, mini or just getting rid of their iPads all together to get a new Surface.
But if Kuo turns out to be right, those eager-to-upgrade beavers may go ahead and trade their new iPad 4s for a lighter, thinner version.
We'll see if the Surface can turn up the heat on the iPad, as it releases this Friday. You can check out the new iPad 4 and the Surface, to compare the two for yourself.