Stoking the rumor pit about the iPad 2 today is Reuters, which cites unnamed sources that don’t really give a lot of information we didn’t already know. Saying the device would support FaceTime and would be “slimmer, lighter and have a better resolution display than the first iPad” isn’t really news. What is interesting, however, is that they cite a source that says a smaller iPad would be coming.
That would be quite a turnaround. Steve Jobs famously said in October that the smallest screen size for a viable tablet would be 10 inches diagonally (which was, of course, lampooned since the iPad is only 9.7 inches diagonally). Since then, several devices have been successfully launched with 7 inch diagonal screens (like the Samsung Galaxy Tab).
More questionable information in the report comes via Steven Tseng, an analyst at RBS in Taipei. He said,
“I think Steve Jobs will announce the new product in January, and we should see the new product hitting shops in about April.”
Actually, it doesn’t make sense. Apple might do that for an OS upgrade or a totally new product, but they aren’t going to announce an update iPad months before launch. Just a glance at recent history shows they usually announce a new version of a product a week or two before it ships.
At any rate, it’s almost a certainty that the iPad 2 will have FaceTime. That wouldn’t necessarily require a rear-facing camera, and considering the heft of an iPad, it probably won’t be used that way much. Still FaceTime is probably the most compelling reason to wait, if you are currently standing in line for one.