With all the flack I give Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), there’s no denying that (at least for now) the iPad 2 is the tablet to beat.
But just like with the iPhone, to keep consumers coming back for more, each updated version of the device needs to deliver something fresh.
For the iPad 2, all it took was a speedier processor, a couple of cameras and a thinner design to ignite a buying frenzy. Even though these features should have been included in the original device, retailers can’t keep up with demand.
I don’t expect Apple to get away with holding back features for the iPad 3 launch, however. Not with Android tablets flooding the market in droves this year.
And that includes the most glaring omission from the iPad 2’s launch – the retina display. As DigiTimes reports, Apple went with LG (NYSE: LPL) and Samsung LCD displays instead.
Luckily for Apple, both companies have developed new high resolution displays for tablets, which they’re showing off at this week’s SID Display Week 2011 in Los Angeles.
This time around though, I don’t see Apple going with both suppliers. Here’s why.
The Battle of the Pixels: Round 1
The main selling point behind retina displays is that they have such a high resolution that the human eye (pretty much) can’t see the pixels at all. If you have an iPhone 4, you know what I’m talking about.
But until now, they haven’t been available in sizes suitable for tablet computers.
Samsung and LG didn’t use the word “retina” in their announcements of their advanced displays. LG teased an “ultra-high resolution” screen with a “greater number of pixels… that can be recognized by the human eye at a typical distance.” And Samsung developed a 2560 x 1600 resolution screen – twice that of the iPad 2 – which is on par with the retina display.
Thing is, LG’s showing several screen measurements, including the iPad’s size, 9.7 inches. Samsung specifically announced a 10.1-inch screen. Of course, that doesn’t mean Samsung isn’t working on different sizes. But it’s definitely a point for LG right now.
Plus, we can’t forget that Apple and Samsung are currently in a patent litigation shoving match. (Which, as I noted recently, might force Apple to replace Samsung’s processor with Intel’s (Nasdaq: INTC).)
And then there’s the fact that LG is already a trusted retina display supplier since it designed the technology for the iPhone 4.
So with three points for LG and zip for Samsung, it’s a done deal right?
I wouldn’t be so sure.
Is Your iPad 2 Bleeding?
You see, DigiTimes claims that some LG-made iPad 2 screens are bleeding light around outer edges of the display.
And Engadget’s readers backed up the findings. Some returned the tablet several times, only to see the problem again.
One commenter wrote, “I have had three iPad 2s and all of them had bleeding problems.” Another asked, “My iPad 2 is bleeding badly here, anyone got a transfusion kit?”
As a result, DigiTimes says that LG “was forced to reduce its shipments in the first quarter due to light leakage problem.”
So while Samsung ended up shipping 4 million units, LG came up short with 3.2 million. That means LG’s design snafu is at least partially to blame for the iPad 2 supply crunch, too. Not good.
Although LG reportedly fixed the flaw and plans to resume shipments to Apple in the second quarter, the damage is done.
After all, if I had to choose between a petty legal dispute and a hardware flaw that led to a shortage of 800,000 units (or $400 million in sales), the legal scuffle gets my vote.