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NEW YORK (
Apple(AAPL - Get Report) loyalists have no problems with the moves the company makes when it comes to its products, but moving to a faster product rollout may aggravate the group that matters most: the general public.
Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White, in a research note, suggested that Apple is now on a six-month product cycle for iPads, instead of refreshing products every year, as it has done in the past with the iPhone. If that is indeed the case, this may aggravate customers more than it helps Apple.
"Our checks at CES indicate Apple will release the iPad 5 and the second-generation iPad mini this March," White wrote in the note. "The iPad 5 is expected to be lighter and thinner than the iPad 4 that was released in October, while the form factor of the iPad mini should be similar to the first generation iPad mini that debuted in October."
The iPad 5 would have the same design as the fourth-gen iPad, but would include a lighter and thinner design than its predecessor. The second iPad mini, which has been
rumored for a few months, would likely see bigger changes, including a faster chip. No word on whether it would include Retina Display.
It was a surprise when Apple announced the fourth-gen iPad at its
October product event after having announced the third-generation iPad in March. Customers have come to expect product updates every year, though Apple is not one to keep things status quo.
The tablet offerings at this year's CES were largely uninspiring, with the hybrid notebook/tablet form factors even worse. Apple is never one to let the competition catch up to it, but it must also not anger the buying public with too many products. Apple has done an excellent job of keeping its SKUs relatively limited, replacing old products with new ones instead of keeping the old products around. Companies like
Google(GOOG - Get Report),
Amazon(AMZN - Get Report) and
Samsung have come close to matching Apple on hardware, but the iPad has a
dominant market share (53.8% as of 2012 according to
IDC) for a reason. Consumers love the iPad.