iPad 5 rumor rollup for the week ending Aug. 7

Partial assembly required, loco logos, Samsung redux

The iOSphere fixated on rear ends this week, agog over "leaked" photos claiming to show the back covers of both the iPad 5 and the iPad mini 2. One blog claimed the leaks were all part of a cunning new marketing and PR strategy by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

And the leaks help deflect the iOSphere from its brief dalliance with weightier matters such as the China Labor Watch report of labor practice infractions at Apple’s China suppliers and assemblers.

Also this week, Samsung suddenly re-emerges in Rumorville as a Force To Be Reckoned With as an Apple iPad display supplier; and conflicting authentic leaks regarding the fate of Apple’s logo on the Next iPads. Will it glow? Will it be a molded synthetic?

You read it here second.

Clearly as part of Tim Cook’s new marketing and PR strategy, the steady stream of quick glimpses and sneak peeks at upcoming Apple product releases continues… The most recent revelation is of the iPad 5′s design, with a new video revealing iPad Mini-esque elements.

— Michael Nace, iPhone5NewsBlog, proving that Apple really can innovate after all.

iPad 5 partially assembled revealed online

A 30-second video clip shows what many are interpreting as a partially assembled iPad 5. And it’s all part of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s “new marketing and PR strategy.”

The clip originally was uploaded by the Japanese Apple blog MacOtakara to its YouTube channel and subsequently picked up by the French tech blog NoWhereElse.fr.

As AppleIsider noted in its own coverage, “it is unclear where the publication [MacOtakara] obtained the footage.”  

The video shows what is presumed to be a partially assembled 9.7-inch iPad – the cover glass, front casing and rear casing. As has been long-rumored, this exterior has the rounded corners, thinner bezels, and rear-facing microphone all found in the current iPad mini. For comparison, shown in this video capture, the iPad mini is shown to the right and the current full-sized iPad to the left.

The video has spawned a second rumor – that the Next iPad will have an illuminated Apple logo on its back panel – but we’ll treat that separately below.

Some iOSphere blogs, including AppleInsider and MacworldUK, treated the video straightforwardly: noting that its provenance is unknown, describing what’s visible, and in some cases providing context.

But not everyone was so modest. Michael Nace, at iPhone5NewsBlog, says this latest amateur video of a purported Apple product is part of a deliberate plan by Cook.

“Clearly as part of Tim Cook’s new marketing and PR strategy, the steady stream of quick glimpses and sneak peeks at upcoming Apple product releases continues,” Nace writes. “Over the past few weeks, it feels as if we’ve been in a kind of cycle, with clear photos and revealing videos showing us the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5S, and iPad 5 all in succession. The most recent revelation is of the iPad 5′s design, with a new video revealing iPad Mini-esque elements.”

Clearly. Despite the fact that last year, Tim Cook publicly vowed to “double down” on product secrecy. He must have been fibbing. Because clearly we see a complex, carefully orchestrated and timed plan that skillfully exploits phony “found” imagery and the viral character of social networks. And people say Apple no longer innovates.

We can picture Cook in his Cupertino office, checking his not-yet-iWatch and tapping out on his iPad a code word that will activate a sleeper agent in some obscure Chinese supply chain vendor to capture a few seconds of video of JUST the exterior case elements, hand them off to his more highly placed contact, who then arranges for a “friend” to pass them to another friend who sends the video to an Apple blog guaranteed not to ask questions. Masterful.

iPad 5 will have illuminated Apple logo on the back, unless it doesn’t

The very same MacOtakara video clip successfully spawned what amounted to an entirely new rumor.

The new rumor’s seed may have begun with an exchange between Steve Hemmerstoffer, founder of NoWhereElse.fr, and AppleInsider’s Mikey Campbell. Here’s Hemmerstoffer’s account, via Google Translate of his original post on the MacOtakara video

“Note that curiously and as I pointed my friend Mikey Campbell Apple Insider, visible logo on the shell is transparent and not silver like the model preview yesterday. This shell is obviously a prototype, so I guess its logo will be eventually replaced by the silver version. I doubt that Apple can indeed consider incorporating a bright logo for its future tablet but who knows ...”

Campbell evaluated the likelihood of this prospect in his own post, drawing readers’ attention to “the translucent white color” of the logo shown in the video, “much like Apple's MacBook lineup. By contrast, current iPads feature an opaque black plastic insert that acts as a window for radio signals.”

But he doesn’t think that an illuminated logo on the back panel is likely and astutely explains why. “Such a feature would be difficult to implement, however, as adhesive is used to secure the tablet's large battery pack to the interior shell wall, a design that covers the Apple logo in both the fourth-generation iPad and iPad mini,” Campbell writes. “In theory, a light pipe or some other mode of light transport could supply adequate illumination, but the added build and parts costs may be prohibitive.”

As these accounts rippled through the iOSsphere they were sufficiently garbled and misread to allow bloggers to come to exactly the opposite conclusion.

“The most astonishing rumor is the coming of illuminated Apple logo at the rear -back of iPad 5,” Anuj Bhatia breathlessly assured readers of Gizbot. “Apple is already using translucent logo, similar to that of MacBook line-up. If Apple is coming with illuminated LED backlit Apple log, as we can see in the leaked video; it shows that the battery used the forthcoming iPad would be phenomenal.”

The previously-linked MacworldUK post carried the headline: “iPad 5 rumour: video shows leaked next-gen iPad with illuminated Apple logo” though Ashleigh Allsopp tones that down in the actual text, saying it’s a “translucent Apple logo that could light up.”

Apart from the issues raised by AppleInsider’s Campbell, the Illuminated Logo advocates are contradicting another set of “leaked” iPad 5 images, posted just the day before at FanaticFone.

That website proudly trumpeted their exclusive. “This time, our great sources have given us TWO unreleased iPad 5 rear housings, which shows some new exciting features.”

Among the un-exciting features was an interior shot of the rear case, showing in black an Apple logo that looked like it been carved out by someone with a dull butterknife. This did not go unnoticed.

FanaticFone: “Update: A lot of people have mentioned that they can’t believe that the part is authentic based on the weird looking Apple logo visible on the inside of the rear housing. In fact, if you look closely, the logo is its own separate molding implemented into the rear housing molding. It makes it harder to copy and is more expensive to produce.”

The Rollup has no idea what that explanation is supposed to mean. In a subsequent post, FanaticFone wrote that the “Apple logo is no longer only printed on the [outside back] cover but the logo is now its own mold implemented into the rear housing.” That seems to suggest that the logo, at least in this allegedly “genuine” part, is molded in some kind of synthetic material and then fitted into a hole cut in the back cover; if so, then the interior of the molded piece could look rougher or more unfinished or at least different compared to the exterior. You can “look closely” yourself. 

But in any case, it’s clearly not a translucent logo, let alone an illuminated one.

Which means we now have two “leaked” rear iPad 5 cases that, apparently, show entirely different logo treatments.

But perhaps this seeming contradiction is simply another twist in Tim Cook’s cunning new marketing and PR strategy: leak both real and fake images of the product to provoke an ever growing speculative fever in the iOSphere. And it’s working!

iPad 5 will continue to have Samsung display

After months, if not years, of unconfirmed iOSphere rumors that Apple was doing everything possible to ditch Samsung as a supplier of displays, processors and other components, a new rumor claims Apple is actually increasing its reliance on the Korean electronics giant, at least in tablet displays.

“Samsung supplied more 9.7-inch panels to Apple than LG Display (LGD) in April and June, according to a research note from NPD DisplaySearch. Panels measuring 9.7 inches are used on the iPad 4,” according to Brooke Crothers, in a post at CNET. “Apple, in fact, has been boosting purchases of displays from Samsung since January, according to the market analyst. Apple got about 2.3 million units from Samsung in the first quarter. That figure jumped about 80 percent quarter-to-quarter to more than 4.1 million units in the second quarter, according to DisplaySearch.”

Crothers doesn’t link directly to DisplaySearch (which, as of this writing, has nothing about this on its website) but instead to BrightWire, a subscription news service aimed at institutional investors. Whatever BrightWire posted about this is behind its registration paywall.

DisplaySearch/BrightWire is also the source for Crother’s claim that “Samsung will also begin supplying 7.9-inch panels for the new iPad mini in the second half of 2013. It's not clear if that's a rumored Retina-class iPad Mini or an expected update to the non-Retina version of the Mini. LGD is the top supplier of iPad Mini displays to date, said DisplaySearch.”

The Conventional Wisdom has been that because Samsung has become the only viable global rival to Apple in smartphones, and because of the numerous smartphone patent battles they’ve been waging against each other, that Apple can’t wait to drop Samsung as a component supplier.

This meme was prominently on display last week at StableyTimes (“a new kind of news”) in a post by Phil Moore, headlined “Apple preps iPad mini 2 and iPad 5 for fall release date, fires Samsung.” A headline that obviously contradicts the DisplaySearch/BrightWire/CNET post.

“Apple has begun ordering components for its upcoming iPad 5 and iPad mini 2, both of which are set for release date this fall, but has bypassed longtime parts supplier Samsung as tensions between the two companies continue to spiral,” Moore declares.

Two days before Moore posted that, The Wall Street Journal reported Apple’s suppliers are getting ready for “mass production of a new iPad Mini in the fourth quarter that will likely feature a high-resolution screen from Samsung Electronics Co., people familiar with the matter said, a sign of the difficulty Apple faces as it seeks to reduce its reliance on its biggest rival.”

Yet despite all the rumors about this allegedly troubled relationship, there’s been precious little real evidence that Samsung has been anything other than a stellar supplier of high quality components delivered on schedule and on budget; or that Apple, whatever its courtroom tactics over smartphone patents, has been anything other than highly satisfied with the results.

Apple is continually expanding, adjusting, and managing relationships with its suppliers and it was for this process that Steve Jobs personally recruited Tim Cook. More suppliers for each component brings benefits of competition, diversified sources, and flexibility in adjusting production, improving quality, and managing inventories.

iPad mini 2 rear cover uncovered

The day after exposing the genuinely authentic rear cover of the 9.7-inch iPad 5 to the iOSphere, or vice versa, FanaticFone was at it again, this time exposing genuinely authentic rear cover of the iPad mini 2. 

Headlined “Authentic iPad Mini 2 Leak,” the post, by “Dave,” nevertheless struck a down note: “this leak is a bit disappointing, and not surprising as the rear housing of the new iPad Mini 2 is identical to its predecessor, the iPad Mini.”

When they say “identical” they mean “identical.”

In fact, with two exceptions, the photo of the iPad mini 2 back cover could actually be a photo (via iFixit) of the existing iPad mini back cover.

The two exceptions are the same cutout-and-molded Apple logo as found in FanaticFone’s alleged iPad back cover photos, as mentioned above. And the absence of the name ‘iPad’ on the back cover.  FanaticFone: “One thing you are probably noticing is that the name ‘iPad’ is missing from the rear housing, while we know for sure that this is the authentic part, we cannot say for sure if this is the prototype or the final version.”

An authentic Apple part…that might be for the iPad mini 2; or an early prototype of the iPad mini 2; or of the iPad mini 3; or of a cancelled design. But whatever it is, it’s authentic you betcha.

“So since there is nothing exciting on the outside, let’s hope Apple gives us a big surprise when it comes to the inside,” Dave concludes.

Well. We can hope.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwjohn_cox@nww.com

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