Apple’s launch of the new iPad, reviewed, was preceeded by months of rumour and speculation. New looks, new names, new dimensions, lost buttons, sharper screen, different models, all-new iPad apps…

The same is true as soon as Apple releases a new version of either its iPhone or iPad – the rumour mill starts up dreaming up new wish-lists and crazy ideas for the next version tablet due a year later. Admittedly, there’s less hype surrounding the features of the next Mac mini or Mac Pro.

Demand for the online news of the third-generation iPad (everyone believed Apple would call it the iPad 3 until rumours swirled that it would be the iPad HD; in the end it was called simply ‘iPad’) reached its peak in the past week as 1 in every 2,000 searches online were “iPad 3” related.

According to Experian Hitwise ‘ipad 3’ accounted for 18.5 percent of all searches containing the word ‘ipad’ – six times more searches than there were for ‘ipad 2’.

Having grouped together all of the new iPad 3 search terms into a portfolio the recurring terms that people were searching for were for release dates, news, specs and prices. First and foremost among the UK consumer queries was when the iPad 3 would be released, with 19 percent of all iPad 3 searches in the 12 weeks ending 3 March containing the word ‘release’.

New iPad review

Apple iPad 3 internet search results UK

News and rumours accounted for 1.5 percent of all iPad 3 searches, whereas 0.1 percent of the searches specifically asked if the new device would have flash on it.

The Hitwise downstream data shows who were the top recipients last week from all iPad 3 searches. Unsurprisingly, as Apple itself keeps its cards very close to its chest, the amount of traffic it received is relatively low at less than 0.5 percent of iPad 3 search clicks. In the absence of official confirmation from Apple, the sites that are seen as authorities on rumours, news and gossip for the iPad 3 are techradar, CNET, the Daily Mail and BBC News. PC Advisor’s iPad 3 rumours news article had 35,000 views.

Although the consensus was that yesterday’s announcement would be iPad related there was also a spike in searches around the Apple TV. Looking at the fast moving search terms containing the word ‘apple’ in the last week, the third and fourth fastest moving terms by volume were ‘apple tv 3’ and ‘new apple tv’, which doubled in search volume in the past week.

It is also worth noting that the last time Apple geared up to make a big announcement in 2011 consumers were convinced that this would be the heralding of the iPhone 5. Searches for iPhone 5 were five times higher than for iPhone 4 in the first week of October, only for Apple to release the iPhone 4S, which was a surprise for many.