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It wasn’t long ago – just over a year, in fact – that Steve Jobs announced the Apple iPad; a device that had been highly rumored and speculated at the time.  While some people questioned the level of success that the iPad would see, it stands clear now that the device has done phenomenally well over the last year – and with the never-ending growth of the mobile industry as we know it, is sure to have a strong future.

As of now, there have been two “versions” of the iPad; once of which sporting a WiFi card, and one that sports WiFi as well as 3G capabilities.  However, up until now the WiFi-only version of the product has been hands-down the most popular subgroup of the iPad family.  With a lower cost and all of the same core features, this version has made a great deal of sense for users who simply didn’t have the need for nationwide wireless access.  Now it appears that Apple will be making a renewed effort with the second generation iPad to push the 3G-sporting model.

Apple Insider is reporting that overseas component manufactures are suggesting that they are producing more parts for 3G devices than they have in the last year, leading us to believe that Apple is expecting more adapters to purchase 3G devices in the next year.  With analysts reporting that up to 60% of the first “batch” of iPad’s will be 3G devices, one has to step back and question if this is a wise move for Apple.

First off, I think that just about everyone is expecting higher iPad sales this year than we saw last year.  Why is this?  Simply put, I think many people resisted purchasing iPad’s in 2010 solely because the device was a first-generation product and individuals did not want to buy a device that they would inevitably be upgrading so soon down the road.  If you combine this with the number of consumers who simply waited to see if the iPad would pan out and be worth their hard-earned money, I think it becomes evident that the first generation iPad did not have the same potential as future generations – as it goes with pretty much every first-gen product.

With a massive success and excellent consumer faith under its belt, I think that Apple is now ready to sell iPad’s at much higher rates than we’ve even conceptualized thus far.  But why exactly would this cause users to go for 3G devices?  You see, with the iPad becoming a day-to-day device for millions upon millions of users, staying connected – even whilst outside of ones home or office network – is becoming a necessity for many.  Because of the iPad’s focus on Internet media and communications, the device almost seems crippled without an Internet connection, and I think that people are now in a position to see 3G-enabled devices as something they’ll actually use.

Interestingly enough, Apple Insider is also speculating that there will be two 3G-enabled iPad’s – a GSM/UMTS device for the AT&T network and CDMA/EVDO device for the Verizon network.  With Verizon customers getting their hands on the iPhone in the next few days, it would indeed make sense for Verizon to have an iPad available as well.

Having said this, I think that the general negative image that AT&T’s network had when the iPad first debuted made people wary of bringing a media-intensive device to the seeming overloaded mobile provider.  If Apple and Verizon were to team up – as it appears the are doing – I think more people would evaluate their options and potentially purchase a 3G iPad simply because of the fact that it was available on Verizon’s network.

For Apple, the decision to renew focus on the 3G iPad can play out very well.  With devices like the Samsung Galaxy doing very well on partnered mobile networks, not focusing on 3G iPad’s would leave Apple behind.  Additionally, I think Apple has something up their sleeves with the next generation iPad that makes them sure that the 3G devices will pay off.  Why else would they be manufacturing so many?  Personally, I predict that Apple is going to drop the price of the WiFi tablet down and bring the 3G tablet to the existing WiFi price point – starting at $499.  This would make the 3G version all the more attractive, and would ultimately benefit both Apple and the mobile carriers.


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