Why People Are Talking About the iPad 3 When the iPad 2 Isn't Even Out YetS

We know that the iPad 2 is coming soon—it's why we keep telling you that you shouldn't buy the current model at this point. But now there's suddenly talk of the iPad 3 already. What's going on?

It basically started with an innocent remark made by Daring Fireball's John Gruber, a guy with a knack for making well-informed guesses:

Summer feels like a long time away. If my theory is right, [HP TouchPads will] not only going to be months behind the iPad 2, but if they slip until late summer, they might bump up against the release of the iPad 3.

Yes, you read that right. Gruber suggested that the iPad 3 will be released this fall.

The ensuing wave of gossip led Gruber to clarify things a bit. He wanted to make it clear that what he'd said was not one of his usual sneaky releases of information—he was simply making a guess:

[M]y gut feeling is that Apple will move the iPad to a September release schedule, alongside the iPods. But they wouldn't want to wait over a year and a half from the announcement of the original iPad to announce the second one - not with these stakes, and not with so many serious competitors trying their best to catch up.

Simple gut feeling or not, the more Gruber wrote, the more his thoughts were making sense.

The only reason for Apple to release two generations of iPads in such a short timeframe would be to adjust the release schedule—and that would be a wise move. After all, many customers feel betrayed when a new iPad arrives in the spring and they've just barely unwrapped the one purchased over the holidays. And those who don't feel betrayed? They're probably just familiar with Apple's typical release cycle, heeded our warnings, and waited.

It would certainly seem reasonable for Apple to take steps to avoid making customers either cry or wait for new toys. But would they really release an iPad 3 in the fall—disrupting their incredibly successful yearly product cycles—for the sake of that?

According to TechCrunch's MG Siegler, yes. In fact, he believes that Apple's been planning to do this for a while:

A few days ago, we heard from a very good source that Apple was assembling the pieces for a "big fall surprise". While intriguing, that could obviously mean anything. But the "surprise" part clearly means it's something beyond the regular iPod/iTunes (and perhaps MacBook Air) refreshes that Apple does in the fall. Still, that leaves a lot of room for guesses. An actual Apple television? A touchscreen iMac? Who knows.

Well, until today. We've now heard that this "fall surprise" is related to this would-be iPad 3. We don't have any more concrete information beyond that. But, as of right now, the plan is apparently to release one iteration of the iPad in the next few weeks. And then blow the doors open with another new version in the fall.

Sure, it's all about anonymous sources, gut feelings, and guesses at this point, but the pieces fit and the reasoning's sound: We might just get an iPad 3 in the fall, it just might take advantage of Apple's $4 billion investment in some sort of unspecified components, it might have a retina display, it might be magical.

Or maybe it might not show up until next spring. We certainly don't know at this point—especially since Apple hasn't even officially confirmed the existence of the iPad 2 yet.