The new iPhone hitting in September, a "10-inch" new new iPad hitting in Q4, and, of course, a 7-inch iPad mini coming in August got recycled and reposted on the interwebs today. Time was we could count on a red iPhone or iPhone nano rumor getting trotted out every holiday season. Clearly the iPad is the new thing, so fall iPad release rumors are the new retread. Or the new new retread. The source, not surprisingly, is randomly accurate rumor site, Digitimes.
So let's break these down. In 2011 Apple shifted their previous summer iPhone release schedule to the fall, with the iPhone 4S (iPhone 4,1) launching in early October. It's not hard to imagine they'll keep to that schedule this year for the next iPhone (iPhone 5,1). Late September is close to early October, so that's not an impossible launch window.
It's harder to reconcile what they mean by a "10-inch" iPad when all iPads to date have been 9.7 inches. There are competing tablets at 10.1 inches, but not 10 inches. If they're suggesting Apple will introduce a new iPad line at 10-inches alongside the existing 9.7-inch line (much as many hope a new 4-inch iPhone joins the current 3.5-inch iPhone line), that's difficult to imagine. Benefits would be negligible. There's just not as much relative difference between 9.7 and 10 as there is between 3.5 and 4. And screen density (what puts the "Retina" in the "Retina display" marketing) would fall from 264 to 256 ppi.
As to a Q4 2012 timeline, last year several people (iMore included) heard that Apple was considering launching the iPad 3 in fall, 2011. Ultimately, due to costs and constraints on 2048x1536 Retina displays, iPad 3 retained the tradition spring position, and we got it in March, 2012. The advantage to a fall 2011 iPad 3 release was significant -- competitors were theoretically ramping up to challenge Apple with a new generation of tablets. An iPad 3 in fall of 2011 would have kicked the legs out from under these competing devices before they gained any traction. Turns out they didn't need any help from Apple, and in their race to get to market, they shipped unfinished operating systems with little to no app support.
This time around, there haven't been any credible rumors of an additional 2012 iPad launch. Since Apple now has a Retina display, LTE equipped iPad on the market, it's also hard to see any pressure on them to get an iPad 4 out early. (Windows 8 probably won't gain significant tablet traction until several months after launch anyway, if that.)
As to the 7-inch iPad mini, that's something Apple has in the lab, along with a lot of other products, and they'll release it when they feel they can go to market with it and sell 10s of millions, if not 100s of millions of units. Apple is, even more than a design company or software company, a go-to-market company. If Apple sees a huge opening for a 7-inch iPad this summer, they'll no doubt go for it. If not, it'll stay in the lab, maybe forever. Apple, as they've often said, are even more proud of the products they've chosen not to release.
It's always interesting to think about Apple's upcoming product roadmap, but in this case the rumors seem more than just a little recycled.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.