Many people missed the iPad 4 launch. While it was clear to KitGuru, back at the start of September, that Apple was going to run foul of UK Trading Standards law with accessories – we knew that the solution was a new iPad. However, with all the Mini iPad hype, its new big brother slipped in through a side door. Now we're hearing there may be more launch activity in January, over in Las Vegas.
[Update: Zardon's sources have indicated that the iPad to be announced at CES will be in UK stores in March 2013]
The problem with the move to the iPhone 5 and iPad Mini was the connection system. Stores across the country had boxes that said, simply, ‘Compatible with iPad' – but without mentioning the model. Given the move from ‘weird wide connection' to Thunderbolts and Lightning for the new products – getting an updated iPad 4 to market made sense.
Now retailers are being told by Apple to prepare for ‘something new in the iPad space for January'.
If the iPad 4 launched less than 4 months ago, what is Apple preparing to announce?
Let's consider the facts and rumours:-
- Fact: The Apple channel has been put on alert that ‘something new in the iPad space' is coming
- Fact: Apart from a slight change in processor, the main reason for pushing the iPad 4 when Apple did, was the connection issue for peripherals
- Fact: If the iPad 4 ‘mini improvement' had not launched when it did, a much more natural time to push it out would have been from January to March 2013
Now on to the rumours. What has changed in the environment and what challenges does Apple face.
In a word, competition. If Apple does not move quickly, its leadership position could come under attack.
While Android was struggling around with the various versions of ‘2', Flash video hadn't been properly implemented and the whole OS had so many holes, that even supporters like Samsung were forced into spending millions on software engineering & development in order to try and create something usable.
Now we're looking at Key Lime Pie (Android 5) being ready to launch at the Google IO Developer Conference on 15th May. With advanced features like intelligent power control, support for multiple platforms, enhanced social networking capabilities and – possibly most significantly – a Facetime app that allows for international video calls free of charge over wireless networks… Apple is definitely under pressure for the first time.
How hard will companies like Samsung be pushing to get class-leading Android 5 products to market? We guess, in light of the horrific litigation, hard. Apple has now advertised on its own web site and in the press that Samsung never copied it's work and the same statements go some way to apologising to Samsung for ever suggesting that ideas were borrowed at all. Even so, Samsung will have been pushing millions of dollars into differentiating its next-gen devices from Apple's.
With Samsung being forced into a ‘leadership or nothing' posture, Apple must step up the speed of its product life cycles – with additional cool features – or risk going full circle back to the bad old days of ‘No one likes us and we're not cool'.
We expect an announcement from Apple on a new iPad at CES next week. Promises of slimmer, lighter and faster abound – but what exactly it will be is a complete mystery.
KitGuru says: Last time Apple lost its ‘cool' tag, it floundered and almost went out of business. Then it remembered a bloke called Steve Jobs. Knee pads were donned and the Apple board knelt down before the all-father and begged his return. This time, there is no ready-made-saviour, but plenty more cash in the bank and on-going revenue streams from the various ‘stores'. Over the next 5 years, can Apple avoid Nokia's fate?
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