Apple iPad ‘5’ Air Release Date Nears: Why No Pre-Orders?

  @redletterdave on October 25 2013 10:29 AM
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The iPad Air, also known as "iPad 5," features a thinner and lighter form factor; the tablet's release date is set for Friday, Nov. 1, but there will be no pre-orders. Courtesy / Reuters

For the first time, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) will not accept pre-orders for it's latest iPad, now in its fifth generation and named the iPad Air, prior to its Nov. 1 release date.

Apple announced two new iPad models at its Tuesday media event -- the iPad mini 2  was the other -- but it made no mention of when pre-orders would be available online. Typically, Apple unveils new products on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and it opens up pre-orders for the new devices on that Friday before its public release date the following Friday. However, Apple pursued no such strategy with its release of the fifth-generation iPad and the second-generation iPad mini, as its website clearly lacks a pre-order option for the iPad 5; Apple says it will release the iPad mini 2 “later in October.”

Why no iPad Air pre-orders?

We reached out to Apple’s press team, but until we get a response, here’s why we think Apple has no iPad 5 pre-orders before the new tablet’s Nov. 1 release date.

Apple cares about what the press says about its products, there’s no question about that. But with the iPad Air, there’s a general concern that Apple is losing its innovative edge, considering how little “newness” there is to the iPad 5 besides its thinner, lighter form factor (and new processor, but that’s expected). The Washington Post points to dipping iPad sales on a year-over-year basis when it says “the iPad has lost its veneer of cool.”

If there’s one thing Apple needs right now, it's better press for the iPad. By disallowing pre-orders, Apple places a greater emphasis on the public release date of the iPad Air. The media will obviously have a field day on Nov. 1, taking pictures of the long lines outside of Apple Stores and Apple-supported carriers as customers finally get their hands on the first iPad Airs, and this strategy also relieves pressure to fulfill pre-orders on the same day as the public release date. With no pre-orders, Apple nearly ensures that the iPad Air will enjoy a busy but orderly public release date.

About The iPad Air

The design of the 9.7-inch iPad has remained static since the March 2011 release of the iPad 2, but two-and-a-half years and two iPad models later, Apple finally revamped the full-size iPad to resemble its "mini" counterpart more closely. Apple chose to release the iPad Air with the same thickness, thin side bezels and symmetrical speaker grilles as the iPad mini, as well as a similar aluminum unibody and less-tapered back for an easier grip. With this new form factor, the iPad Air is significantly lighter than its predecessors at just 1 pound, which makes it the lightest tablet currently on the market.

Last year’s iPad release, the iPad 4, was powered by a dual-core A6X chip with quad-core graphics; for the release of the iPad Air, Apple implemented its new A7 chip, the same processor that powers the iPhone 5s. Unfortunately, the presence of an A7 chip doesn't mean Apple chose to release Touch ID in the new iPad Air, but it does come with Apple's latest M7 co-processor, which will likely be the chip to power Apple’s upcoming iWatch.

The iPad Air also comes with two new cameras: While the iPad 4 featured a 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera with 720p HD video and a 5-megapixel rear-side camera with 1080p HD video, Apple tweaked both cameras, opting to release the iPad Air with the same 5-megapixel camera with larger pixels (similar to the iPhone 5s) and a slightly improved 1.2-megapixel FaceTime HD camera with 720p HD video. 

Apple will also release the iPad Air with faster Wi-Fi and more LTE bands on the cellular model, but both iPad Air models (Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + cellular) will come in two color options: white with silver, and space grey with black. The basic iPad Air with Wi-Fi starts at $499 for 16 GB and ranges up to $799 for 128 GB. For an iPad Air with Wi-Fi and LTE, models start at $629 for 16 GB and range up to $929 for 128 GB.

What do you think of the iPad Air? Are you upset it's not called the iPad 5? Do you plan to purchase the new iPad when it is released on Nov. 1? Sound off in the comments section below.

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