It's been a little more than two weeks since the iPad Mini and fourth-generation iPad were released. If the latest rumor is true, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL [FREE Stock Trend Analysis]) will reboot them again very soon.
According to DigiTimes, "Apple is expected to introduce its next-generation iPad and iPhone series around the middle of 2013."
This conflicts with a previous report that claimed the next-generation iPhone, the presumably titled iPhone 5S, would be released this winter. Up until now, millions of iPhone 5S units were rumored to be in production. Cupertino, California-based Apple does not comment on rumors and has not confirmed the existence of an iPhone 5S, but the company is widely expected to update the iPhone at some point next year.
The iPad, on the other hand, was no longer on analysts' radar. As the most recently upgraded product in Apple's lineup (next to the iMac, of course, which has yet to ship), the iPad Mini is still very new. If consumers think that Apple is going to continue updating its tablets every six or seven months, some might wait to see what the next iteration is before making a purchase. It won't take long before that becomes a vicious cycle.
In addition to the iDevice upgrade rumors, Apple suppliers will reportedly enjoy a healthy first quarter. DigiTimes' sources have informed the publication that Apple's suppliers are expected to report "particularly strong results for the first quarter of 2013." Their success is being attributed to the release of the current iPhone, but it does not end there. "Component orders placed by Apple, which climbed to high levels prior to the iPhone 5 rollout, will rise again between March and April," DigiTimes reported.
This assumes that Apple will continue its current strategy. As a hardware company, Apple's primary goal is to sell new iDevices. Since its product lineup is rather limited (the company produces one phone, two tablets, four MP3/video players and a handful of Macs), the firm is forced to release frequent upgrades if it wants to maintain strong sales.
While consumers are willing to replace their smartphones every year or two, they may be less receptive to the idea of replacing a $500 tablet. Most consumers use iPods and MacBooks until they break beyond repair, reducing turnover.
This may be the reason why Apple is rumored to be getting into the pay-TV business. While few believe that Apple wants to create original content, the company may wish to bank on the perpetual monthly fees that come with a successful service. By selling a form of a la carte cable, for example, the Mac maker could still earn billions of dollars even when it does not have a new product to release.
Alternatively, Apple could expand its market reach by releasing a new kind of iDevice. Beyond the rumored television set, however, there are not many markets left for Apple to explore.
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