It’s been a few days since we heard any good rumors about upcoming Apple devices, and just in time, there’s new dirt about not one or two but supposedly three devices to be released later this year.
Up first is the it-rumor of 2012, the iPad Mini. That’s the loosely agreed-upon name of a 7-inch iPad that keeps coming up this year. Supposedly, Apple is looking to step up and challenge smaller tablets directly – specifically, Amazon’s bargain-priced Kindle Fire, which retails at $199. That’s a $300 difference between Amazon’s device and Apple’s iPad, and the rumors keep maintaining that Apple means to shrink that gap somewhat.
According to a report from DigiTimes, Apple’s device manufacturing partner, Foxconn, has received orders for a 7-inch iPad for sale as early as this summer. That would suggest an announcement probably coming in June at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. Historically, Apple has brought something to bear at the conference every year. Formerly, it was new iPhone announcements; last year, it was the announcement of iTunes in the Cloud and iOS 5.
While Foxconn will be handling the supposed iPad Mini, DigiTimes says there are other devices getting made by another Apple partner, Pegatron Technology. One of them is the iPhone 5, the next-generation iPhone expected to be released this fall and include 4G LTE capability. DigiTimes cites unnamed supply chain informants, who point to a September release for that device.
More interestingly (and less believably), the sources claim Pegatron has also received orders for another iPad to be released this year, but this one of the standard 10-inch variety. DigiTimes reports its sources say that iPad will be out this fall as well.
While the iPad Mini rumors have been flying in a lot of directions so far, and a new iPhone is basically a foregone conclusion, it’s the new 10-inch iPad that throws the most doubt on the report. DigiTimes has a history of being wrong about as often as it’s right, which means that you should definitely be skeptical about rumors such as this one. It seems counterintuitive for Apple to push the third generation iPad in the spring and follow it up with another refresh in the fall.
However, there has been talk of Apple reworking its pricing structure somewhat in order to bring the cost of older iPads down, in order to break into the lower-cost areas of the tablet market. It’s not impossible that what Pegatron could be working on is not a new iPad, but filling orders on older models in order to help Apple make the device available at deeper discounts.
Still, Apple undoubtedly has more things up its sleeve this year than just what we expect from the iPhone 5, and given the climate created in the tablet market by the Kindle Fire, it doesn’t seem too far afield to see Apple stretch into other portions of the market while maintaining the high-end prestige it cultivates for its devices. Unfortunately, we’ll still have to wait a few months to see what develops.