The end-of-year rumour-mill is suggesting that there will be a new iPad early next year, but does this make sense? When would it be logical for Apple to introduce new devices?
Look first at the iPhone. The current iPhone 4S is selling exceedingly well, and is still the best smartphone on the market. Yet competitors are catching up, and in some ways they are pulling ahead, especially with LTE and NFC. Apple has chosen to not include LTE in the 4S because the technology, it feels, is immature, yet it is a strong selling point for the competition.
Hence, as soon as Apple can get the technology right, wouldn’t it choose to launch a new iPhone to keep ahead? Or at very least, it would put some more space between Apple and the competition. There are potentially two things that are keeping Apple from releasing and iPhone earlier rather than later: LTE draining battery life and iOS 6.
If LTE cannot be provided without a significant hit on battery life, Apple will not release a phone with LTE. Period. It is unimaginable that Apple would, like some Android suppliers, provide a phone with a battery life less than one day.
iOS 5 took Apple until October to get stable enough to release, so will they be able to deliver magic with iOS 6 in time for when the iPhone 5 software is ready?
Consider now the iPad. It is clearly the market leader in the tablet space. Stock Android, Microsoft or BlackBerry tablets have not gained any momentum at all. Google has not be able to release a new tablet for Christmas with its latest operating system, Ice Cream Sandwich. On top of that, the iPad is selling very well and is the top of wish-lists to Santa this year.
Hence, Apple has no real need to update the iPad to remain competitive, neither does it really need to upgrade anything to keep ahead of the competition.
The next upgrade to the iPad is expected to bring a retina display, which will increase substantially the difficulties and costs of manufacturing the iPad. Apple may want to spend more time focusing on working with its new suppliers to reduce costs and increase quality before launching the iPad.
Another supposition is that the 3G iPad will have LTE next year. That’s a good supposition, the iPad is a data device and LTE is primarily a data network. Again, though, LTE can only be integrated if it doesn’t impact the battery life too much.
Given the market conditions and component supply issues, it appears logical that there is no pressing need to introduce a new iPad, but more pressure on the next iPhone. Hence my perdition would be to see a new iPhone announced at WWDC 2012 and a new iPad for Christmas 2012, introduced for late September or early October.
What are your predictions?