February 23, 2011, 12:26 PM —
Apparently, Kara Swisher from All Things D was right on the money in predicting that Apple would have an event next week to announce the next iPad. Media invitations to the event began arriving from Apple this morning.
The invitations look like Apple's iOS Calendar app icon with the date for March 2nd. The top right corner of the icon appears to be pulled down to reveal an iPad. The text of the invitation reads as follows:
Come see what 2011 will be the year of.
Speculation about the features of the next iPad have been rampant. The device is expected to feature a higher quality display, be thinner than the original, and sport a more advanced version of Apple's custom-designed A4 processor.
A version of the device that natively supports Verizon's network is also expected, though it isn't clear whether Apple will produce two separate iPad models as it currently does with the iPhone or if a dual-mode device capable of using both GSM and CDMA networks. It also isn't clear if Apple will unveil a version capable of using Verizon's ultra-fast LTE network.
Another potential feature is a so-called mystery port identified in some case designs by accessory makers. Some have speculated that the port could be a USB port, SD card slot, Mini Display port, or even Intel's new Lightpeak connector. It has also been conjecture to be a SIM card slot rather than any new type of connection.
Although the iPad is clearly the focus of the event, Apple is likely to use the opportunity to showcase other new technologies. A new line of MacBook Pro models is almost certain. Also Apple is also expected to be announcing a new small business support initiative through its retail stores (one that may not sit well with existing Mac and iOS business consultants).
It's also possible that Apple will preview the next version of its iOS mobile operating system. The company has previewed iOS updates at spring events in the past two years in advance of a release alongside new iPhone models in early summer.
Whether or not Apple will use the event as a platform to respond to criticisms of its new subscription system is unknown. In the light of the recent one line message from CEO Steve Jobs claiming the policy won't impact SaaS-type apps, it would make sense for Apple to clarify its position of what types of apps are expected to conform to the policy.