iPad 2 event: 9 things to watch for

March 2, 2011, 11:43 AM UTC

The fun starts at 10 a.m. PST (1 p.m. EST). A guide to the proceedings.

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

[UPDATE: It’s official. There will be no live webcast. My colleague Michael Copeland will be live blogging from inside the auditorium. I’ll be following the action from Brooklyn here.]

Assuming Apple (AAPL) provides a live webcast of the event — as it has for the last two — here’s what we’ll be looking for:

  • Steve Jobs. A classic Kara Swisher tease in All Things Digital says he’s “definitely mulling an appearance” but it’s “definitely not confirmed.” Thanks a bunch.
  • A price cut. That’s not Apple’s style. The company prefers to add features and hold price steady. But a cheaper iPad would put a terrible squeeze on its legion of imitators, which are so far charging more for less.

  • One camera or two. A front-facing camera for FaceTime video chatting is a must. A second on the back — which Cult of Mac‘s Leander Kahney reports as a done deal — would probably be less for photography than for spawning augmented reality apps.
  • One iPad or two. Will there be separate models for AT&T’s (T) GSM network and Verizon’s (VZ) CDMA, or will one iPad serve both carriers?
  • A spec surprise. Dual-core processor, 512 RAM, better speaker system, thinner chassis, smaller footprint, lighter avoir du pois, etc. Tell us something the Boy Genius hasn’t already told us.
  • Ship date. Next month is OK. This month would be better. This week would be a real coup.
  • Distribution. Will Apple stick with Best Buy (BBY) and its own retail stores or move into the office supply chains to try to head off threats from Hewlett Packard (HPQ), Microsoft (MSFT) and Research in Motion (RIMM)?
  • iPad 3. The smart money seems to be betting that this iPad is more a speed bump than a redesign. “For the iPad 2, don’t get your hopes up too high,” an unnamed Apple staffer told Cult of Mac’s Kahney. “The third-generation iPad is the one to make a song and dance about.”
  • MobileMe, iTunes, JointVenture, iOS 5. The less time Apple spends talking about the iPad 2 today, the more credence you might give that iPad 3 meme.

If Apple livestreams the event, I’ll be watching it from home. You could too. Tune in here before 1 p.m. EST for details.

Also on Fortune.com:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]