Think, Period.

Rick Aristotle Munarriz at The Motley Fool:

It was difficult to see Apple moving so many tablets when’s Kindle Fire was doing what no other competitor had done in this niche by actually selling “millions” of its entry-level $199 devices. Adding to the bargain-basement pricing, Research In Motion was dumping PlayBook tablets for as little as $199. Even its high-end 64-gigabyte model is selling at a $400 discount to its original price tag these days. It was also during this time that Hewlett-Packard cleared out its inventory of webOS-fueled TouchPads for as little as $99 apiece.

Given all of this markdown madness, you have to wonder what the 15.4 million buyers of iPads at $499 or higher were thinking. It was a buyer’s market for tablets, yet they went ahead and paid retail. […]

I’m not asking iPad buyers to “think different” as much as “think,” period.

15.4 million idiots…what were they thinking?

(Apple noted on the conference call that sell-through exceeded sell-in by 200,000 units, so it was more like 15.6 million idiots.)

Early February Seems Too Early

Macotakara says that Apple is preparing for an iPad 3 introduction in early February. As I noted over at MacRumors, this would make for a roughly one-month wait from introduction to launch if rumors of early March availability are correct, and that’s where they seem to be coalescing right now.

One month is too long of a wait for an established Apple product unless they’re specifically trying to preempt something else with an announcement, and I don’t see signs of that yet. Early February is too early in my opinion, so my gut feeling is that this Macotakara report is off.

For the record, last year Macotakara claimed on February 5 that Apple was likely to hold a late February media event ahead of a March launch for the iPad 2. The media event actually took place on March 2.

An iPad 3 with LTE

Today’s big news is a Bloomberg report claiming that the iPad 3 has entered production and is set to launch in March. While that piece of information and claims of a high-resolution “Retina” display are consistent with circulating rumors, the report’s assertion that the iPad 3 will both carry a quad-core processor (presumably Apple’s A6 system-on-a-chip) and support LTE cellular connectivity are very welcome confirmations.

When it comes to the processor, Apple has been widely reported to be developing its next-generation A6 system-on-a-chip with a quad-core processor. But one analyst suggested last August that an A6-powered iPad would be unlikely before June 2012 based on the suggested development timeline for the platform. That claim naturally led to speculation about whether the analyst was simply wrong (a common assumption), or if Apple would be forced to decide between releasing an A5-powered iPad 3 in the expected March timeframe or “pushing back” the iPad 3 launch to the June timeframe.

On the LTE front, Apple executives stated several times last year that the company was unwilling to adopt LTE in that year’s mobile products due to “design compromises” that would have had to have been made in order to accommodate the necessary chips. In brief, LTE devices have so far required two-chip solutions to provide the LTE baseband on top of the basic system components. That arrangement requires additional space and power that Apple was unwilling to dedicate to the technology last year.

Qualcomm is in the process of delivering single-chip LTE solutions to manufacturers for sampling, and that has been expected to be the necessary step for Apple to adopt the technology. But reports had indicated that single-chip solutions such as the MDM9615 would not be ready for mass production until early this year, with some sources reporting a Q2 introduction. Consequently, there has been some debate as to whether they would arrive in time for Apple to squeeze them into the iPad 3 for a spring launch.

Assuming Bloomberg‘s report is correct, both of the potential issues regarding A6 and LTE availability are no longer a concern, and even the most demanding Apple fans can look forward to another enticing product launch in the not-too-distant future.