iPad 5 rumor rollup for the week ending July 18

iPad 2 "delay," iPad 5 "imminent," iPad nano nonsense

The sweltering heat gripping much of the U.S. seems to be the cause of an even more intense than usual rumor delirium about the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2.

A spasm of woe convulsed the iOSphere on a rumor that iPad mini 2 has been delayed until 2014, with Apple planning to substitute a slightly improved mini in the fourth quarter in the hopes that people won’t wait for the greatly improved mini early next year. Only the heat can account for the willingness to accept that chain of illogic.

Also this week: Best Buy’s iPad trade-in deal proves the iPad 5 release is “imminent” though the iOSphere has a flexible idea of what that word means; and the surprise revelation that it’s being widely insisted that Apple plans a third New iPad model – the iPad nano, a “stripped down budget version” of the tablet. We anticipate legions, LEGIONS, of new buyers proudly brandishing their iPad nano and chanting, “stripped down, stripped down, stripped down!”

You read it here second.

__________~ Phil Moore, StableyTimes, although a Google search of “iPad nano” revealed that since the October 2012 announcement of iPad mini, the only rumor monger who seems to have insisted on this is…Phil Moore himself.“[R]umor mongers are widely insisting that Apple will pull a triple play by adding a third new ‘iPad nano’ model priced closer to two hundred dollars aimed at taking on the budget Android tablet market.”

__________

iPad mini 2 won’t be released until 2014

DigiTimes this week announced that “industry supply chain sources” have revealed that “Apple's next generation iPad mini may not go into mass production until the fourth quarter of 2013, which will likely bring about a 2014 release date for the device….”

And throughout the iOSphere, there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth. Woe is us.

Setting aside whether this mass production schedule actually is a “delay,” the question is why is it later than most people have been expecting?

DigiTimes: “Apple is reportedly aiming to use Retina panel technology equipped with 2,048 by 1,536 resolution in the next generation 7.9-inch iPad mini. Apple is also said to be revising the design of the chassis to give the next-generation iPad mini an almost bezel-free look.”

This isn’t terribly clear. DigiTimes may be implying that trying - in trying to get a power-efficient Retina panel for iPad mini 2 - Apple has run into various technical or manufacturing problems. But no one is explicit about that in this post, which is typical of the website’s industry sources: They’re certain without being specific.

The second reason – a late change in the outer design – just doesn’t seem very compelling. It’s not clear why Apple would decide, apparently at a rather late date, to miss the holiday sales quarter for iPad mini 2 in order to revise the device’s bezel (especially when iOSpherians have been insisting for months that iPad 5 is being changed in part so that its bezel will look more like that of the current iPad mini). Shrinking or even doing away with the bezel doesn’t seem to be a critical improvement for the device to warrant missing the holiday sales season. And it could simply be phased in without rush or complications for the iPad mini 3.

To compensate for the missed holiday season, DigiTimes suggests that Apple is preparing a slightly improved version of the current iPad mini. “Apple reportedly may first release a slightly updated version of the current iPad mini in the second half of 2013, which is expected to be lighter, thinner and equipped with improved specifications, the sources said.”

The iOSphere’s interpretations and extrapolations on the brief DigiTimes post (typically no more than six paragraphs) are comical.

At CNET, Don Reisinger assures his readers that “The delay is due mainly to the Retina Display, which Apple plans to include in the iPad Mini, the site's sources claim. The display technology isn't difficult to produce, but Apple needs to build up a stockpile in the 7.9-inch size to get the right number of devices onto store shelves.” The DigiTimes sources claimed no such thing.

AppleInsider’s Sam Oliver is confident that the latest rumor shows an emerging pattern of rumors that the iPad mini 2 with Retina display has run into unnamed “technical issues” and has been delayed, even though one of the sources he links to, a Wall Street stock analyst, explicitly said in May that he thought it would be launched in October. This seems to be Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire Rule of Rumoring: if enough rumors say it, it must be true, because why else would they be saying it?

On the other hand, a website called TechRadar seems perfectly prepared to believe that Apple is delaying iPad 2 and substituting a slightly changed model until the “real” Next iPad mini is finally available. Here’s how Lily Prasuethsut puts it in her post: “Since the iPad mini 2 has reportedly been put on the back-burner, this may be a move by Apple to churn out tablets for the holiday season while putting off the real updates for a later time.”

And International Business Times goes even further. “If true, this could be the cheaper iPad mini which we've heard multiple analysts predict,” writes Kristin Dian Mariano, without a shred of evidence to support such a conclusion. “It's possible this new iPad mini 2 could push the original device price down to $250.”  

Again, the DigiTimes supply chain sources seem unable to provide any details of what the “improved specifications” would be, and DigiTimes seems uninterested in more details. Nor is there any explanation of why Apple would introduce a lighter and thinner model three or four or five months before introducing the full-blown replacement (which presumably will also be lighter and thinner) for the current 7.9-inch tablet.

And pointing to the fourth-generation iPad, which was rather quietly announced at the same time as the first iPad mini but about six months after the announcement of the third-generation iPad, doesn’t prove much. All the changes to “iPad 4” were internal and limited – an improved system-on-chip and the new Lightning docking connector (which did entail changes to the bottom of the tablet’s case). Apple does make unannounced internal changes in its products. But again these don’t affect the form factor.

Changing the bezel design at the last-minute doesn’t seem like a convincing reason to push iPad mini 2 into 2014. And DigiTimes doesn’t cite any evidence to show that technical or manufacturing problems are the cause, either.

iPad 5 announcement “imminent” because Best Buy offered a trade-in deal

Last weekend, Best Buy offered a $200+ gift card if you traded in your aging iPad 2 or iPad third generation.

And according to some iOSpherians, that can only mean one thing. That Best Buy is getting ready to sell the iPad 5, so its announcement is “imminent.”

Imminent means “likely to occur at any moment.” Think about that: “at any moment.”

The two-day deal – last Friday and Saturday --  itself was reported late last week, straightforwardly enough by many sites, such as AllThingsD, where Bonnie Cha stuck with the facts

Users can bring either of the two older iPad models in, and “receive a $200 gift card that they can use toward any in-store or online purchase. In some cases, the amount may be more than $200, depending on the model and condition of the iPad.”

Clearly, you can trade-in in order to trade-up – use the $200 to buy the current iPad with Retina display, which typically starts for the 16-GB Wi-Fi model at $500, which is pretty hefty, 40% discount if our math is right. In other words, if you had a trade-in iPad, you could buy a new one for just $300. That’s pretty good deal, especially if you think the Next iPad is “just” going to have an upgraded processor, some visual tweaks to make it look more like a big iPad mini, and be bit thinner and lighter.

In fact, it’s probably a good deal even if you think, or hope, iPad 5 will Redefine the Tablet Market as We Know It Today.

The tablet trade-in deal was modeled after Best Buy’s similar trade-in deal for iPhones, offered in June. According to Cha: “Though Best Buy wouldn’t disclose how many people participated in the program, the company said there was an ‘overwhelming response’….”

This can mean only one thing, according to post at International Business Times, by Kristin Dian Mariano. “The recent iPad trade-in of Best Buy suggests the imminent release of the rumoured iPad 5 with the same iPad Mini design,” she wrote.

Keep in mind that in the Real World “imminent” means “likely to occur at any moment.” But in the iOSphere, it means something different. Mariano writes of the iPad 5’s “supposed September/October launch. Based from previous releases, Apple announces new products several weeks ahead of a release.”

So the Best Buy deal shows that the iPad 5 announcement is likely to occur at any moment starting in late August or September or October.

We are thrilled. Just thrilled.

iPad 5, iPad mini 2 will be teamed with iPad nano

What is the iPad nano you ask. According to StableyTimes it’s a “stripped budget model.”

“[R]umor mongers are widely insisting that Apple will pull a triple play by adding a third new ‘iPad nano’ model priced closer to two hundred dollars aimed at taking on the budget Android tablet market,” announced Phil Moore, in a post at StableyTimes, “a new kind of news.”

And once again the website proved it really is a new kind of news.

To be honest, this came as a surprise to The Rollup – that mongers were “widely insisting” that a new low-priced iPad model was in the works. So we Googled “iPad nano” to find out just how wide is this insisting.

It turns out: not very. In fact, perhaps we should call this the iPad none-o.

The search returned 374,000 results, but that included “iPod nano” which is an actual Apple product, as well as references to “iPad nano” that apparently were misspelled “iPod nano,” and speculation, before the fall 2012 announcement if iPad mini, that the then-upcoming tablet might be called “iPad nano.” The murk isn’t helped by really confusing stories, such as this one at InformationWeek, which declared that Apple had renamed the iPod touch as the iPad nano.

So we’re not sure where Moore got the idea that a legion of rumor mongers are widely insisting about an even smaller and cheaper iPad.

Or why they would, apart from a desire to keep busy.

Moore seems to think that a still-cheaper iPad is desirable or necessary for Apple to compete with cheaper and cheaper Android tablets because, you know, so many people are buying them. “The iPad mini has made some incursion into that territory, but its mid-level price tag keeps it from competing with the bottom of the tablet market directly,” Moore writes.

“But a triple play iPad lineup of a full price full sized iPad 5, a mid-priced iPad mini 2 with its ballyhooed retina display, and a low end iPad nano chasing after budget users would at least give Apple an entry point into each tablet market segment, giving it a chance of market success no matter which way consumers end up leaning,” he assures readers.

The Rollup isn’t sure that the people at One Infinite Loop actually understand the meaning of the words “budget user.” For Moore, it seems to mean “anybody who doesn’t want to pay Apple’s price for an iPad.” But that’s not the buyer that, historically, Apple has tried or bothered to reach. Although its policy of discounting older iPhone and iPad models when new models are released has made both devices available to a larger group of buyers than would otherwise be the case.

The iPad mini really is a mini version of the full-sized iPad. It’s not easy to see what an iPad mini mini would look like, or be priced at, or what Apple would gain from it. So far, unlike with its iPod music player line, Apple has resisted segmenting its phone and tablet lines (with the exception of the smaller iPad), which are basically handheld computers. So far, it seems to think that the 9.7- and 7.9-inch tablets and the 4-inch iPhone (and iPod touch) are the optimal screen sizes for these product classes.

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

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