Apple announced its iPad3 in San Francisco today in a press conference that seemed more mundane than in the Steve Jobs era.  The iPad3 is certainly not mundane, though it is virtually the same size as the iPad2. The most important visual change comes when it is switched on, as it has a screen resolution of 2048×1536 pixels, which is significantly better than an HD TV display. The back camera is enhanced and overall the video performance is quite stunning. If you are into the visual arts and computer games then this is the iPad for you, especially when the price points are the same as they are for the iPad2.

From an enterprise perspective the major change is support for 4G LTE, with 73Mbs download speeds on LTE. However 4G LTE comes in some different varieties and it’s not clear from the presentation if all the decoders needed are bundled in or whether for now the products will just support local markets. What might be of value is the ability of the iPad3 to act as a personal hotspot and support up to five other devices. What was also not clear from the presentation was what the future of the iPad2 would be. The price for the 16MB model is reported to be coming down to $399, which is not going to be good news for the Android tablet business.

The iPad3 will certainly continue to set the specification benchmark for tablets. Others will catch up but by then Apple will have shipped millions of units, giving it a dominance that is difficult to see being challenged. Corporate IT departments will probably be reassured by the level of commitment of Apple to the tablet format and the availability of 4G LTE even if in Europe 4G LTE network coverage is very poor. The USA are way ahead in this respect.

What impressed me about the launch was the level of security around the specification of the iPad3. There were some leaks, but nothing of any significance. This is where Apple’s supply chain management comes in. The cash mountain that the company has enables it to commit to large scale long-term deals that manufacturers value very highly even if there is a great deal of pressure on margins.  Because of this Apple can impose absolute bans on disclosure that seemingly cannot be matched even by the security services if Wikileaks is anything to go by.

I’m personally pleased that the iPad3 was announced today as I’m just finishing our March Research Note on Enterprise Mobile developments that will be published later this month.

Martin White