The iOSphere resolutely ignored the Lessons of History and embraced, yet again, the conviction that iPad accessory manufacturers know what's really happening with the iPad 5 tablet computer.
And what's really happening is that it will be announced in June. Or September-October. Or April, or March. Sometime, for sure.
You read it here second.
"The launch of the iPad 4 last October angered people who'd bought the previous iPad which was on the market for just 7 months before being replaced. However, it looks like Apple will now repeat the trend with the [April announcement of] iPad 5 which is sure to insight [sic] further rage."
~ Simon Thomas, 3G.co.uk, pointing out the downside of a stock analyst's prediction of an April launch for iPad 5 - the next Apple-rage epidemic.
iPad 5 is due in June and it will be, like, different
A manufacturer of mobile accessories, for devices like the iPad, has revealed to Business Insider's Jay Yarrow that iPad 5 is due in June, and it will be smaller and lighter compared to the current fourth-generation tablet.
"Steven W of mobile accessory maker MiniSuit sent us a photo of an iPad 5 case, which he says his company is already manufacturing," Yarrow explains.
[IPHONEYS: The iPhone 6 and iPhone 5S edition]
Talk about optimism. You can see the already-being-manufactured case in this photo which of course speaks for itself, as all iOSsphere leaked photos do.
AppleBitch, among other sites, noted that "iPad 5" cases from various manufacturers are now available on the e-commerce site Alibaba.com. "The cases...have been engineered for an iPad with squarer edges than the current generation iPad." There's an "additional hole in the top center of the case, likely for a microphone, as well as slots for speakers positioned on either side of the Lightning connector instead of just on one side," according to AppleBitch.
Stevie Wonder, as we prefer to think of him, says MiniSuit "'heavily invests' in tips about future mobile products to get an advance on case making," according to Yarrow's post. And he also says "These leaks typically come from factories that we work closely with."
And these leaking factories must surely know the truth. So Yarrow's source says that his sources "have informed him the new iPad should be out in June."
"This sounds like a reasonable time frame if cases are already being manufactured," says Yarrow, without explaining how or why selling cases for a product that won't be available for four months indicates reasonably when that product will ship.
One would think, or at least hope, that the iOSphere might be a bit more skeptical about how third-party cases prefigure future iDevices. In mid-2011, there were widespread and repeated posts that third-party cases being rolled out by companies like Hard Candy showed a radical new thinner, tapered design for what was expected to be the iPhone 5, but was actually the outwardly-almost-unchanged iPhone 4S. So what happened?
As The Rollup noted in our October 2011 post, referencing an intriguing account by Bloomberg Businessweek, Hard Candy's CEO received details from three factories about the new design, and spent some $50,000 investing in equipment to create cases for the tapered model. His sources were simply wrong, though he remained convinced that the tapered design would show up in the Next iPhone, what came to be the "real" iPhone 5. Needless to say, those hopes were crushed again.
Yarrow apparently remains hopeful, too, based on the information from Stevie Wonder. "The next iPad is expected to mimic the design of the iPad Mini. It will be thinner and lighter. It will also have a smaller overall size, while maintaining the same 9.7-inch screen."
AppleBitch links to three of the Ali Baba cases, convinced that their existence is "lending support to the initial report that the iPad 5 would have a significantly different form factor when compared to the current generation iPad models."
Or as MacRumors' Eric Slivka more confidently asserted "[W]ith rumors, rear shell photos, and now cases all consistently pointing toward an iPad mini-like design for the fifth-generation iPad, evidence for a significant overhaul of the full-size iPad is becoming stronger."
The more rumors about something, the more likely it is that the rumors are true. Q.E.D.
Forget June: iPad 6 will be released in September or October
Or maybe they can be.
Eric Chiou, an analyst with market intelligence firm TrendForce, shared his iPad 5 predictpectations with the world, which to be honest sound pretty familiar.
As repeated at MobileAndApps, they describe a Next iPad that will:
+ use the display technologies introduced with iPad mini, coupled with a thinner exterior bezel, to reduce the full-sized tablet's thickness, overall size, and weight [for more details, see "iPad 5 will have GF2 DITO OMG IMHO screen structure" section in "iPad 5 rumor rollup for the week ending Feb. 6"]
+ ship in Q3 of this year
+ possibly have a lower price "because of the display components," according to MobileAndApps
+ cause the iPad 2 to be retired
BGR also picked up on Chiou's predictions, with Zach Epstein suggesting Chiou's description of an "extensive overhaul" of the full-sized iPad is essential to restore consumer interest in a product that "a number of industry watchers believe" past its prime. Epstein is repeating what's become an Internet meme: that sales of iPad mini have already outstripped those of the full-sized tablet, and this proves that larger tablets are passé or Apple's product strategy is failing or something equally apocalyptic.
But most of those "analyses" seem based on nothing more than guesswork: Apple doesn't break out sales for the mini and full-sized models. In the 11 quarters in which iPads have been sold, three quarters show a decrease in iPad unit sales compared to the previous quarter. All others show sequential increases. In the most recent quarter (Apple's Q1 Fiscal 2013), the company sold 22.8 million tablets in both form factors. Some analysts have estimated that that number splits more or less evenly between the two sizes. If that could be confirmed, it would represent the first time that full-sized iPad sales decreased for two consecutive quarters.
Forget June! It's April, damnit!
This is based on a recent mathematical analysis by investment analyst Gene Munster, of Piper Jaffray, and repeated by sites such as AppleInsider.
Here's poster Katie Marsal's quote from Munster's Note to Investors: "We believe that looking at the history of time between Apple product launch events suggests that the company will introduce something new in March or April."
Is that awesome or what? It's almost like saying "We believe that looking at the meteorological records for the past five years suggests that the weather will show a warming trend starting in late February."
Except that iPads have only been around since April 2010. "Over the past two years, the Spring event has been iPad updates," Munster notes. And you just can't deny that.
But he didn't stop there. "The average time between the [Apple announcement] events has been 123 days, about 4 months. The longest amount of time between events since the 3GS launch in 2009 was 216 days (about 7 months), which was the gap between the iPad 2 launch in March 2011 and the iPhone 4S launch in October 2011."
By this time our eyes are glazing over. Marsal summarizes: "Munster noted that the iPhone 4S may have faced some delays that extended the gap between launches. Therefore, given Apple's last event was October 23, 2012, a 4 month difference would suggest a late February event while a 7 month break would imply a late May event."
So what the heck is the bottom line here?
"We believe the most likely scenario is an event in between the two, i.e. March or April," according to Munster.
So. Something will be announced "pretty soon." But what?
"We believe Apple could update the full-sized iPad to a body style similar to the iPad Mini. Additionally, we believe that the iPad Mini could get a Retina display, although that may happen later in the year given the supply constraints Apple faced on the Mini in the December quarter."
The Rollup, too, believes absolutely, firmly and definitely that Apple could do those things, too. The question is: will it? And will it do so in April? Or March? Or in one of the other eight remaining months in 2013?
Thank heavens for precision statistical analyses.
Munster's highly conditional possibilities have already been transmuted by iOSphere alchemy into predictions bordering on fact. And while some may think it's good news that a new iPad may appear six months or so after the last one (the 4th generation iPad in October 2012), it's actually bad news.
"The launch of the iPad 4 last October angered people who'd bought the previous iPad which was on the market for just 7 months before being replaced," declares Simon D Thomas at 3G.co.uk. "However, it looks like Apple will now repeat the trend with the iPad 5 which is sure to insight further rage."
What's wrong with Apple? We want great products. And they, stupidly, give them to us. The only appropriate response is rage.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.