iPad 5 rumour rollup for the week ending June 24

An iPad mini 2 that has the same resolution as the iPad mini 1?

This week the iOSphere faced the unthinkable: an iPad mini 2 that has the same resolution as the iPad mini 1. Where is innovation when you need it?

Also this week, understanding how new discounts for iPhones means the Next iPads won't be announced until...2014; but still others insist iPad 5 will be announced in the autumn; and still others think it will be announced in July or August...without iOS 7.

You read it here second.

__________

"iPad 5 Release Date Nears; Specs and Features Still Unknown"~ headline, International Business Times, neatly summing up the current state-of-the-art in iOSphere rumorology, though IBT is groundlessly optimistic about the release date.

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iPad mini 2 will stick with current resolution instead of high-res Retina display

This is part of the ebb and flow of iOSphere rumors. Or perhaps the flush and refill.

In a blogpost this week, Richard Shim, senior analyst for NPD DisplaySearch, mentioned that the iPad mini, which "is expected" in the latter half of 2013, will continue with the existing 1024 x 768 pixel resolution instead of moving to Apple's Retina display technology, with 2,048 x 1,536 pixels.

What a bummer. Because "iPad mini 2" and "Retina display" have been wedded to each other in the iOSphere hive mind since about 30 minutes after the iPad mini was announced last year.

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Based on his contacts with Asian supply chain companies, Shim "expects" that the iPad mini will have the A6 processor instead of the current A5 (the A6 currently powers the iPhone 5), and a "slimmer" design, whatever that means: thinner, smaller case, both?

In the third calendar quarter he also expects a new full-size iPad with the as-yet-unannounced A7 CPU. He does expect that the Retina display eventually will come to iPad mini, but on a different model in "early 2014."

This would have been just one more "expectation-based-on-anonymous-Asian-supply-chain sources" post except for one thing. Nine weeks ago, Shim announced that he was expecting the Retina display iPad mini in the second half of 2013, as The Rollup took note of then. As CNET put it in its headline, "First Retina iPad Mini is on track, DisplaySearch reports."

Shim told CNET in May: "We see two refreshes coming. One [with a Retina display] in the second half of this year, then one in Q1 [first quarter] of 2014. The Q1 device will have a Retina display plus an updated processor."

Shim's new blogpost was not well received by the iOSphere. A sampling of headlines:

"Analyst recants claim that Apple will add Retina display to iPad mini before 2014""Analyst Backpedals on Earlier Forecast of Retina iPad Mini Debuting Before Next Year""Analyst changes tune: New iPad mini won't have a Retina Display"

Shim's Apple expectations came at the very end of his blogpost, which was mostly focused on analyzing the emergence of a new crop of 8-inch, 1,280 x 800 resolution Android tablets starting this fall, in the latest bid to come up with a non-iPad tablet that will actually sell. And, of course, make money.

In 2012, the tablet market was dominated by larger-than-9-inch models, including the 9.7-inch iPad. "It is expected," Shim says, that the smaller-than-9-inch models will take a majority of the tablet market in 2013, mainly the 7- and 7.9-inch tablets. The iPad mini is the only 7.9-inch device, and has 15% of the under-9-inch market, according to Shim, who also estimates that iPad mini will be 60% of all Apple iPad sales. Apple doesn't release shipment numbers by iPad size.

The problem with Shim's new, and old, prediction is that he doesn't deal with the formidable technical challenges Apple faces in bringing Retina display to the mini. The only technical analysis on this issue that The Rollup has seen is the one by AnandTech's Anand Lal Shimpi and Vivek Gowri in their Nov. 20, 2012 review of iPad mini. 

Apple has several options, none of which are especially attractive because of the associated costs and trade-offs, according to the authors. If it doubles pixels in both dimensions (quadrupling the total number), as it did for the third-generation iPad with Retina display, Apple "would then need to make all of the same changes it made in going to the [full-size] iPad with Retina Display, primarily the introduction of a larger battery and much larger SoC [System-on-Chip the CPU and GPU]....Both of these things would increase the size and cost of the mini, which would make it distinctly un-mini."

There may be a combination of more advanced, emerging technologies that could sidestep this trade-off, but whether they are mature enough for a fall 2013 product is an unanswered question at this point.

Their conclusion: "If you're expecting next year's mini to have a Retina Display, I wouldn't hold your breath."

Apparently Richard Shim isn't.

iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 won't be released in 2013 because retailers cut prices on iPhones

Several times this year, retailers like Best Buy and Walmart offered "instant savings" on iPads or iPhones. Each time, the move triggered confident iOSphere proclamations that the Next Models were due out in weeks, if not months. Sometime in the future, at least.

Now, Walmart and Best Buy have cut prices, apparently permanently as reported by Mashable, for those current iPhone models sold in-store with wireless service contracts. But not for the current iPad models.

And you know what that means.

"The iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 release may not be on course to be in 2013," bemoans Clare Hopping at the eyeball-collection Website, TheFullSignal.com. Her post carried the headline "iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 2013 release date rumors quashed." 

After offering iPad discounts earlier this year, "Best Buy has replenished its supply of the iPad mini and iPad 4, which is something that normally doesn't happen if a device is soon to be replaced by another device," Hopping observers.

"Normally" is a nice touch: it makes one sound as if one really understands inventory management and retailer success factors.

Both Walmart and Best Buy currently (as of June 24) offer the iPad mini and iPad with retina display for the same prices as Apple does on its Website: starting at $329 and $499 respectively.

In early April, The Rollup noted the iPad Discount Non-Phenomenon, when the iOSphere went gaga over price cuts, which was almost universally interpreted as a sure-fire indicator that Apple and its retailers were clearing out existing products to make way for their replacements, which must be arriving..."soon." That didn't happen.

And besides Apple CEO Tim Cook already said, at the company's most recent earnings call in April 2013, that "Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can't wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014 [emphasis added]. We continue to be very confident in our future product plans." [For complete details, see "Apple's Cook resets 3 popular, and wrong, Apple rumors"] 

So we already know that new products will be introduced starting this fall. And the fact that Walmart has lowered the price of iPhones but not iPads (yet) tells us nothing about the actual timing or order of iPhone and iPad introductions.

Quite apart from baseless rumors and fantastical speculation, it seems perfectly reasonable that Apple will unveil and release new models about a year after introducing the current models, perhaps spread over a few weeks, in time for the holiday buying season.

iPad 5 will be announced in the autumn

But you don't have to believe Tim Cook. At Britain's PCAdvisor.com, David Court is able to discern the future by Pure Reason.

"Following the announcement of iOS 7, it's fairly easy to come to the conclusion that Apple will launch the iPad 5 in autumn 2013," he announces confidently, as if Tim Cook had never mentioned "fall" two months ago. "The company released the iPad 4 back in November 2012, having unveiled it in October. Given that the design was already two-generations old, we can't imagine Apple will wait any longer than a year to launch the next iPad."

The logic here appears to be: "A" must be true, because "Alternative-to-A" is unimaginable. Or at least unimaginable to David Court.

In terms of a foundation for reporting news, "We can't imagine...." ranks up there with "normally" and "surely" as well as rhetorical constructions such as "Would Apple wait more than a year to launch the next iPad?"  

Boldly going from one unknown thing to another, Court does admit that "Rumoured iPad 5 specs are pretty thin on the ground right now." As thin as snow on the ground in Florida in June. "The general consensus is that it will adopt a design similar to the iPad mini, and that it will be anything up to a third lighter and thinner than the iPad 4," Court declares. The repetition of this "consensus" is evidence not only of the fact vacuum in iPad 5 rumors but the inability of the iOSphere to even convincingly conjecture about the next tablets.

iPad 5, iPad mini 2 will be released without iOS 7

To the uninitiated, this seems....well, stupid.

But not if you ignore facts, reality and the absence of hard data, and slip the surly bonds of truth and just make up stuff. Like they do at StableyTimes.com, where they practice a "new kind of news."

In Phil Moore's latest post, a model of its type, he dares to ask "Will Apple dare release iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 in July without iOS 7?"

"Indications are that the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 are ready for mass production now and launch in July," Moore blithely reveals. "But will Tim Cook and Apple dare release its new iPads without the new iOS 7 system software interface running on them?"

Apart from anonymous supply chain sources, whose truthfulness is impossible to determine, there are no indications that the tablets are "ready for mass production now." Unless one starts with the assumption, belief, prejudice or hope that Apple plans to announce and release the new tablets in the fall and, working backward, therefore has to have them in volume production in time to push them into the hands of buyers. We're talking about a global inventory stockpile of millions of units.

Moore doesn't even seem to consider what "ready for mass production" means, because actually manufacturing the tablets and packing them into boxes is only one part of a complicated process of getting them ready to be actually sold. The Rollup has no idea how much time that takes, but then, apparently, neither does Moore.

Moore's question about Cook's plans depends on making connections where none exist. First, according to Moore, "Apple says iOS 7 will be ready in the fall, [but] early buzz from beta testers is that it's further along than expected and could be complete as soon as August."

"Further along" than who expected? As soon as August meaning...August 1 or August 31?

Second, is another assertion that also has no foundation in any verifiable fact. "Now that the iPad launch schedule has been shifted to the second half of the year as of 2012, it's close enough to the annual iOS update that it would seem strange for Apple to launch the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 a mere month or two before iOS 7 is ready to be launched on it."

There is no evidence Apple "shifted" the iPad announcement to the latter half of this year. It would seem strange only if there was any evidence to show that Apple was even thinking like this.

"Sure, it could be installed by users later," Moore admits. "But launching [iPad] without iOS 7 would give would-be buyers an excuse to put off their purchases, and perhaps end up not making them at all in the end." Definitely a danger, given that so many potential iPad buyers don't really want to buy an iPad: they're just looking for an excuse not to buy one. And if, as Moore says, iOS 7 "could be installed by users later," why would that be a reason not to buy the new tablet now?

Finally, there's this nugget: "Still, Apple faces bunching up all its mobile product releases in the same fall timeframe again, which last time around left it without anything to release in the spring and resulted in a backlash of criticism," Moore explains, displaying his marketing acumen.

So "bunching up" mobile products in the fall, just before the peak holiday buying system, is actually a bad idea. Because the public also wants to be able to buy new products in the spring and if they can't, then they create a backlash of criticism. Or something. Maybe.

This is the kind of pseudo analysis that relies on simply making stuff up.

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

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