If you’re someone who’s always first in line for new iPad releases, you haven’t had a lot to get excited about lately. Sure, Apple gave us the iPad mini and a slightly upgraded 9.7 inch iPad late last year. But the company broke its traditional March/April release cycle, leaving us without a new iPad in 2013. That will obviously change before the year is over, but, according to a new report, that wait might still be far from over.
The scoop comes from DigiTimes, which says Apple is eyeing Q3 to release a new 5th-generation iPad. But, unlike last year, the iPad mini might be trailing behind its big brother. The same report says the 2nd-generation iPad mini might not release until November.
The report also repeats some other patterns we’ve been hearing about for much of the year, like the iPad 5 having an iPad mini-like appearance (narrower bezels and whatnot) and a “thin-film-type touch panel solution” that will reduce its weight.
Why?So why stagger the releases? Well, for one, the iPad mini has reportedly been cannibalizing the 9.7-inch iPad. Release them both at the same time, and the long-anticipated iPad mini with Retina Display could accelerate the trend. Giving the iPad 5 a couple of months in the spotlight could give it some breathing room.
The DigiTimes report also suggests a much simpler possibility: that it's a response to the supply chain. If your suppliers can't meet your demands to release the two tablets at the same time, then you're out of luck.
Apple and the holidays
No matter when the new tablets release, it’s becoming more obvious that Apple is stacking most or all of its 2013 product releases towards the holiday season. iPad 5 in Q3? New iPhone possibly around the same time? iPad mini in Q4? No matter the exact timing, it's a big change from the Steve Jobs era, when the company staggered its releases pretty evenly throughout the year: iPad in March or April, iPhone in June or July, iPods in September.
A holiday focus has its obvious advantages. Like, you know, releasing during the most profitable time of the year.
But it also pushes the company out of the limelight for much of the rest of the year. With Wall Street souring a bit on Apple and more pundits claiming that the company’s game-changing glory days are over, you have to question the move from a PR perspective.
Lots of the Apple bashing is blown out of proportion, but perception can have a huge effect on a company’s bottom line. And when Apple's next big release was no more than six months away, people had something to talk about. It put the focus where Apple wants it to be: on its products.
Stay tunedEither way, we should be hearing more on these fronts in the next few months. It’s unlikely Apple will announce any iOS devices at next week’s WWDC, but we should hear about iOS 7, the next version of Mac OS X, and some new Macs. When you’re in the middle of the longest Apple drought in recent memory, starved Apple fans will likely welcome any solid news with open arms.