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Opinion: Apple iPad 3: A post-holiday gift to the economy?

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You may want to cross that iPad 2 off your Christmas list and hold out for Apple’s next-generation tablet, which will likely hit stores soon after the holidays. Nathan Olivarez-Giles reports:

Such a device would be similar to the iPad 2, but include Apple’s high-resolution retina display technology found on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S by doubling the iPad 3’s screen resolution, said analyst Richard Gardner in a research note first reported on by Business Insider andPCMag. Gardner reportedly said that ‘several sources’ told him that Apple could launch the iPad 3 as early as February, which would put its debut ahead of the first two generations of Apple’s tablet.

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Waiting to splurge on the updated device in February would be a gift for the economy too. In his first installment of Santacomics (the intersection of economics and the holiday season), the Atlantic’s Derek Thompson explains why.

Is Christmas bad for the economy?Of course not! would be a reasonable reply. Yuletide sales account for $400 billion in economic activity. Holiday hires at retail stores lift employment and stimulate the economy. For many shops, this season accounts for nearly half of their annual revenue. If you lopped December off every shopping calender, the U.S. retail industry would be in a permanent depression.

But, says Thompson, echoing economists, we’d be smarter to spread out that spending throughout the course of the year.

Wouldn’t we be happier if we bought what we wanted when we wanted it? Wouldn’t stores have smoother earnings and more confidence to hire and expand if their income were spread evenly across the year rather than pinched like a hose that explodes every third week in November?

Furthermore, he writes, holiday shopping leads to wasteful spending. Rather than buying people gifts throughout the year as we think of them, we end up plunking down our hard-earned cash on overpriced tchotchkes and expensive candles at the eleventh hour -- er, 12th month.

So, if you’re planning on giving or receiving and iPad, perhaps you’ll consider an IOU. Waiting until February would kill three birds with one stone by giving the economy a boost after the holidays, curbing wasteful spending and ensuring you get (or give) the device you really want.

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--Alexandra Le Tellier

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