While customers and investors need to wait a little longer before Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) introduces its update to the iPad 2, here are three key items to bear in mind:
Prepare for a surprise. In last year's run-up to what was supposed to be the iPhone 5 but turned out to be the iPhone 4S, bloggers and analysts speculated about all kinds of capabilities the new smartphone would have.
Indeed, the iPhone 4S was a vast improvement over the iPhone 4 because it came with the S for Siri, the personal voice assistant. For the first time on a mass commercial scale, Apple used a voice-response system that by and large works and is a huge hit.
How many of the so-called insiders knew it would be installed on the product? None.
So, when the iPad 3 or iPad HD or what might be even called the iPad Steve is shown at a marketing event in San Francisco on Wednesday, watch for a surprise. Perhaps it will be a link to the much-mooted Apple TV because the invitations say, We have something you really have to see. And touch.
Of course part of the iOS software designed into the iPad family is an easy-to-use touch screen that can be used even by infants. There may be a major advance here.
But it could also be some kind of hot key that links with the iCloud and helps to bring in TV, since the new iPad is apparently designed for fourth-generation long-term evolution (4G LTE) networks, sources quoted by Reuters said.
So, with a new tablet that will surely have better resolution and graphics than the iPad 2, there could be TV, especially since rivals such as Google showed applications for Google TV at January's International Consumer Electronics Show.
Buy Apple shares if you're bullish. Apple shares have fallen from their all-time high of $548.21 set only last Thursday. In Tuesday's overall market dip, they've sunk to $529.24, which is still a 31 percent gain for 2012 alone.
Last year, around the October introduction of the iPhone 4S, Apple shares set a new record, then swooned. On Oct. 4, the day of the introduction as well as the last full day in the life of Chairman Steve Jobs, Apple shares fell 5 percent - to $354.24 - before closing down 2 percent at $372.50.
There's a 41 percent difference between Apple's share price then and now. A bullish investor convinced of the iPad franchise might want to load up. A bear, wondering how much farther the price can go and seeing new entrants from Amazon, Samsung Electronics, Lenovo Group and others, might take other action.
Watch for pricing. Surely, Apple will announce pricing and availability for the new iPad. Will it be the same or far above the current $499 suggested retail price of iPad 2?
Having sold more than 55 million iPads at $499, there's little incentive for the Cupertino, Calif. company to cut the price.
However, rather than make the old iPhone 4 and iPhone 3 obsolete, last time CEO Tim Cook led a product introduction, he debuted three-tiered pricing. The new phone was priced from $199, the older model went to $99 and the iPhone 3 became free with a service contract.
Perhaps to unload iPad 2s, Cook may announce something similar. Or he may say the iPad 2 will continue to be manufactured for a specific period. At a discount.
Apple's contactors, principally Hai Hon Precision Industries, known as Foxconn, may not want to commit the entire capital required to shift to the new iPad yet.
To be sure, under Jobs, Apple would tag obsolete products immediately. Cook is his own person, though.