Is Apple Releasing Products Too Fast?

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apple ( AAPL) 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), Amazon ( AMZN) 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.

Ultimately, it is Apple's customers who determine the success of the company, no matter how well the products are made. Apple's mission is to make the best products in the world, but that doesn't matter if no one is buying them. Consumers' tastes change very fast, sometimes almost at the blink of an eye. Their wallets, while sometimes seemingly never empty, do eventually close from time to time (shocking, I know).

I can't see Apple releasing iPads every six months as it tries to stave off competition, but then again I didn't expect the fourth-gen iPad in October. I'm sure Apple has a few tricks up its sleeve we don't know about. It would be wise to make sure these tricks turn into treats and not trash.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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