Why No iPad 2 Announcement Yet?

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Rumors about Apple's next-generation iPad are arriving on a daily basis now, and not just from the usual mob of gossipy tech blogs. The Wall Street Journal lately has been serving up regular updates on the still-unannounced tablet, which reportedly is in production as you read this. Why leads one to wonder: Why no iPad 2 announcement yet?

Apple, far more than its competitors, is very predictable when it comes to product launches: new iPhone in June; new iPods in September; and--if the pattern holds--new iPad in January. Considering that Steve Jobs introduced the original iPad at the end of January 2010, the iPad 2 (or whatever moniker Apple chooses) launch is overdue.

Has Apple delayed the new iPad's debut? If so, here are three possible reasons why:

1) Steve's health

As everyone knows, Apple CEO Jobs announced last month that he's taking a medical leave of absence. Unlike his first medical leave in January 2009--when Jobs said he'd return by the end of June 2009--the famously private executive didn't give a return date this time. And since Jobs, the consummate pitchman, always introduces Apple's major product releases, it's conceivable that his medical issues have led Cupertino to postpone the iPad 2 launch--perhaps until he's ready to handle the public presentation, or until a suitable in-house replacement is prepared to take his place.

2) Xoom counterattack

Motorola's upcoming Xoom tablet is generating a lot of prerelease buzz--much of it favorable. The 10-inch slate, the first to run Google's tablet-friendly Android 3.0 operating system, is considered by many industry watchers to be the iPad's first serious competitor. (The Samsung Galaxy Tab, by comparison, seems more like a promising, if quirky, first try.) Since Motorola plans to launch the Xoom in late February, might Apple be saving its big iPad announcement for, oh, late February? Certainly, an iPad 2 launch would steal the Xoom's thunder, much to Motorola's chagrin.

3) The Journal got it wrong

In other words, the iPad 2 isn't in preproduction, nor is it coming anytime soon. This is unlikely, however, as the Journal has been consistently spot-on with its Apple rumors, including unconfirmed reports on the Verizon iPhone, the original iPad, and the iPhone 4's antenna problems. Some tech journalists, including TechCrunch's MG Siegler, have even suggested that Cupertino feeds these stories to the WSJ whenever it wants Apple news leaked. True? Who knows. But considering the numerous rumors from myriad sources about the imminent arrival of a next-gen iPad, it's safe to assume the Journal's reports are accurate.

So when will Apple announced the iPad 2?

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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