Rumors are claiming Apple’s iPhone 5S and next-generation iPad will launch in the middle of 2013, a bit earlier than many observers expect considering Apple’s seemingly moved to a fall release schedule. Digitimes points to industry sources that say Apple’s component suppliers are expecting large orders from the iPhone maker in March and April of next year.
Digitimes, a technology industry publication, has a mixed track record and has a somewhat tarnished reputation amongst some consumers and media outlets. However, Digitimes has accurately predicted Apple releases in the past. Like the saying goes, a broken clock is still right twice a day.
According to the Digitimes report, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE) expect to do brisk business beginning in the later part of Q1 2013 after a slowdown in January and February. The pickup is rumored to match levels leading up to the September 21 iPhone 5 release.
So why would Apple shift its iPad and iPhone announcements from just before the holiday season back to summer? Perhaps the company wants to avoid a mid-year slump or it wants to speed up the beat of new releases. Competitive Android devices are released on a continual basis, which means they often outdo whatever iPhone is on the market for months at a time.
Another issue with fall releases is that Apple has trouble keeping up with demand for months after releasing its phones and tablets. For example, the iPhone 5 was announced on September 12 and is still backordered for 2-3 weeks at Apple.com. The phone is difficult to find in all capacities and carrier configurations at retail. These sorts of availability issues turn off some buyers, especially those who are buying gifts on tight deadlines.
Apple used to have a tradition of announcing new iPhones at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) each June, but shifted away from that strategy. The last time it debuted an iPhone at WWDC was in June, 2010 when it announced the iPhone 4 alongside iOS 4. Perhaps Apple wants to synchronize major software announcements with hardware announcements once again.
The next iPhone is rumored to largely resemble the iPhone 5 and carrier the iPhone 5S moniker, following the tradition of Apple’s tick-tock release schedule where every other release is a major update and the others are minor upgrades.
Releasing updates to iOS devices in less than a year isn’t unprecedented. Apple released the third-generation iPad in March earlier this year, followed by the fourth-generation iPad in October. The latest full-sized iPad looks identical to the previous model save for the new Lightning adapter port, which is also found on the iPhone 5 and iPad mini.