With the impending Apple announcement on March 7th, I wanted to run down some of the rumors that were attached to its release and what I see as occurring at the press conference.
1) Retina Display: The new display bump makes sense, following both Apple's natural progression of the displays on their devices as well as the invite's wording about something to see. There has also been reports of website analytic getting hits from iPads running what appears to be iOS 6 and a screen resolution of 2048x1536.
2) The Same Price: It would be a deviation from past Apple pricing to have a price increase on the new iteration of a piece of hardware. That combined with the fact that there aren't that many new improvements to differentiate the iPad 2 from the new iPad, Apple will probably drop the price of the iPad 2 down and keep the prices of the new iPad at the prices the iPad 2 is currently at. Furthermore, the reduction of the iPad 2 price point would help make the price more palatable to schools, helping further the iBooks adoption in schools.
3) Siri: It is a perceived differentiatior between the iPhone and Android phones, and the extension of the personal assistant to the new iPad would help keep the iPad on top of the tablet hierarchy, and help justify it over the Kindle Fire and its much lower price. Including Siri in the new iPad would make it a necessity in enterprise functions as it would replace the basic usages of a secretary by automating tasks.
4) LTE: One of the reasons that Apple has avoided using LTE and 4G as their data processing is that it was a battery hog. There has been new advances in LTE battery life with the very slim Motorola Droid RAZR Maxx, getting over 8 hours of usage time. According to the Wall Street Journal, both AT&T and Verizon will sell the new iPad that can run on their 4G LTE network. That makes sense as neither Sprint nor T-Mobile offer 4G LTE at the moment and are both transitioning off of their WiMax and HSPA+ to LTE in the next few years. If Apple was going to release a 4G tablet, why would they release it for two networks that were going to be obsolete in the next few years anyway? By releasing it for only LTE, they stat true to their pattern of keeping the choices limited, especially with something as confusing as 4G.
What's Not Likely
1) No Home Button: There are gesture touches for the iPad 2, but the Home Button is a hallmark of the iOS devices, much like the clickwheel was for the iPod. There are two possible reasons for why the button is not appearing in the invitation. One is that the iPad that is in the picture is orientated in landscape instead of portrait where the Home Button resides. The other, and more reasonable answer is that the button was photoshopped out of the picture. If you look at the finger, there is a bluish tint under the finger, showing that there was something that was emitting light and is no longer there. Also, the Home Button just does so much already, that removing it would cause new mapping for major functions of the iPad, causing fragmentation between generations of tablets and setting a differential between the iPhone and iPad.
2) The iPad Mini: There is no threat from the Kindle Fire or any of the other smaller tablets. Steve Jobs was dead set against 7 inch tablets and Apple wouldn't fragment their tablet offering into different sizes like so many Android tablets.
The Final Wildcard
From the details that have been leaked, there doesn't seem to be enough to conceivable call the new iPad release the iPad 3. Instead, I believe it will be called the iPad HD, to show its new HD display and enhanced visuals. However, to put the iPad over the top, I expect that there will be a special guest from Microsoft revealing the new Office apps on the iPad. The Office suite has been seen in the wild, and was teased by representatives from Microsoft as coming soon, and wait and see. That would make the new iPad a pure enterprise dreams with both Siri and Office helping create a super tablet that could help untether workers from their desks.