iPad 5 Production Rumored for Mid-Summer Start

  on April 09 2013 8:56 AM

Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL [FREE Stock Trend Analysis]) long-awaited iPad upgrade could go into production in just a few months.

According to DigiTimes, volume production for the fifth-generation iPad will begin in July or August. This would enable the company to ship the new device before October, which will mark the one year anniversary of the fourth-generation model.

However, it would also mean that the iPad 5 will not ship until after the sixth-year anniversary of the first iPhone, which was originally released on June 29, 2007.

Apple is expected to hold a major event on June 29, 2013. While the iPhone 6 or iPhone 5S is likely to headline the event, rumors suggest that the fifth-generation iPad and/or second-generation iPad Mini could also make an appearance.

Traditionally, Apple has used separate press events to hype its two biggest devices -- the iPhone and the iPad. The company famously unveiled the iPhone 5 last September, delivering a device that fulfilled expectations but not much else. Analysts largely believed that Apple would replace the small form factor with a larger four-inch screen, a lighter body and a thinner design. All of those predictions turned out to be true.

This year, Apple is expected to maintain the iPhone's form factor and focus on improving the processor, camera and other notable tweaks.

Siri, the voice-activated software that was used to promote the iPhone 4S, has occasionally been associated with rumors relating to the next iPhone. This assumes that Apple will try to rekindle the magic of the iPhone 4S, which proved to be one of the firm's most successful devices.

At this time last year, analysts were filled with praise for the iPhone 4S, which had been selling at an incredible pace.

This year, the iPhone brand continues to break quarterly sales records, thanks in part to the continued popularity of the iPhone 4S. The iPhone 5, however, is not performing as well.

"We lowered iPhone units due to our view that the iPhone 5 product cycle has generated less new user growth and installed base upgrades than we had previously hoped," Goldman Sachs wrote in a report this month. "While we left our March quarter estimates unchanged, we reduced our June quarter unit expectations to 30.92 million from 33.47 million previously. This is based on our belief that demand will wane ahead of the upcoming iPhone 5S refresh…"

Unlike the iPhone 5S, the next iPad is believed to contain a number of notable changes, starting with the size and weight of the device. While the 9.7-inch display will remain, the tablet is expected to use a thin-film touch panel (the same one featured in the iPad Mini), which could allow Apple to reduce device's thickness.

While a new design might raise sales expectations, it may not be enough to persuade consumers to make a purchase. At least one analyst has argued that the iPad 4 was released early because the third-generation model sold fewer units than anticipated. The latest model does not seem to be performing any better.

Things could get even worse now that the iPad Mini is available. Many had questioned the smaller form factor, especially after Apple co-founder Steve Jobs said he did not like the seven-inch format.

Apple, now under the guidance of CEO Tim Cook, released the iPad Mini anyway. That strategy seems to have paid off -- iPad Mini sales are expected to eclipse sales and shipment numbers of the full-size iPad this year.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at 248-636-1322 or louis@benzingapro.com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

(c) 2013 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

Copyright Benzinga. All rights reserved.

Join the Discussion