iPad 2 Revealed at iOS 4.3 Event Next Week?

There's speculation that Apple may finally announce the iPad 2 next week as originally rumored, possibly slated for a big reveal during a yet-unannounced iOS 4.3 launch event. Previous rumors pointed to a February 9 introduction for the iPad 2-- next Wednesday.

Last year Apple held two separate events: the first was Apple's formal iPad introduction while the second announced the new Apple iOS 4.0. Given that the tablet and operating system are now receiving a refresh, it's believed that Apple will simply cram the two announcements into one big press conference. There's also a theory that Apple will unleash the iPad 2 and iOS 4.3 just before AT&T goes live with iPhone tethering (!) on February 13.

But first let's consider one important factor: the current iPad. Consumers signed up for Apple's email offerings have by now seen the current Valentine's Day (spam) push for the iPad and iPod Touch. "They'll fall in love again and again," reads the email. "This Valentine's Day, give the one and only iPad. They'll enjoy apps, games, movies, books, and more."

While the situation was different when the iPad was revealed back in January 2010 and then launched later in April, a wait time between February 2011 and April 2011 for the iPad 2 could hurt sales of the current model. Consumers looking to buy the Apple tablet may simply wait for the next model rather than purchase the current iPad offered online and offline.

That said, Apple may choose to follow its iPhone strategy by revealing and making available the iPad 2 this month, or keep with the year-to-year release date and unleash the iPad 2 in April. If Apple does make the iPad 2 available this month, a discounted (original) iPad would indeed be an ideal Valentine's Day gift. Right now the prices remain unchanged, costing the usual $499 (16 GB), $599 (32 GB) and $699 (64 GB) for the Wi-Fi models, and $629 (16 GB), $729 (32 GB) and $829 (64 GB) for the Wi-Fi + 3G models.

As mentioned last week, February will be a busy month for the industry with the possible iPad 2 reveal and other important revelations taking place during Mobile World Congress. It's speculated that Apple may be simply waiting to see what Motorola's XOOM tablet will offer before releasing the second generation iPad. But given Apple's dominance in a shallow tablet market, that seems highly unlikely.