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According to DigiTimes, “Apple is expected to announce its fifth-generation 9.7-inch iPad in September as scheduled,” which is a nice touch since the phrasing makes the Apple announcement sound as precise as a publicly announced re-entry plan for a NASA space shuttle.
Yet two paragraphs later, DigiTimes has this: “Although suppliers have not yet received a firm mass production schedule from Apple and are mainly shipping products for pilot production, the sources pointed out that pilot production is already able to satisfy demand for the initial launch. Therefore, the sources expect Apple to give its shipment estimates at the end of July or early August.”
DigiTimes is saying that iPad 5 is scheduled for September launch even though as yet there’s no schedule for mass production of the devices. From this posting, it’s not clear whether or not this is a routine practice for Apple, and for consumer electronics companies in general, or something unusual.
The post recycles the widely accepted, if not well grounded, rumor that the next full-sized iPad will have a “slimmer bezel design to allow a bigger viewing area.” That doesn’t sound quite right: reducing the width of the “border” or “frame” around the 9.7-inch iPad display wouldn’t increase the display’s surface area – it would still be 9.7-inches diagonally. But the reduction could allow Apple to make the length and width of the iPad somewhat smaller and to create the illusion that the screen is, relatively, bigger.
Apparently, at least according to DigiTimes’ supply chain sources, Apple also wants to make the iPad mini’s mini bezel still smaller, and possibly nonexistent. DigiTimes: “Apple has also been asking its upstream supply partners to further shrink the next-generation iPad mini's bezel, aiming to push a bezel-less design similar to that of Samsung and HTC's large-size smartphones.”
If this is true, the months-long speculation that Apple is reducing the 9.7-inch iPad bezel in part to mimic the outside design of the iPad mini is another example of misreading Apple’s options, plans, and actions. The iPad 5 will end up mimicking the first-generation iPad mini.
CNET’s Brooke Crothers claims to believe that “a distinct theme has emerged about the timing of upcoming Apple tablets: The iPad 5 is on track, while the Retina Mini is up in the air.”
Yet for all anyone really knows, both products are on track, because Apple plans to introduce one first and then the other.
The theme that Crothers says is emerging is based on “speculation” and “continuing chatter” the credibility of which is highly variable. Much of it is from badly reported postings that depend on completely anonymous supply chain sources. Based on that, Crothers says regarding iPad mini 2: “Don't hold your breath.”
Crothers quotes one analyst who makes a point that allows us to be even more skeptical of the DigiTimes post. “Ideally, [display makers] should be producing in high volume one or two quarters before Apple can use the display," Sweta Dash, senior director of LCD research at IHS iSuppli, told CNET previously.”