As you may know by now, Apple just released a new iPad. Not one with a new form factor. It looks exactly like the iPad 2, 3, and 4 (give or take a few ounces). What is new about this iPad is that the top line storage is now 128 GB, minus whatever Apple takes for iOS and its apps.
What does this mean? It means that if you're in the market now for a new tablet with 9.7", you get it now. It also means a couple of other things.
It means come March or April, there will not be a media event to introduce the fifth generation iPad. Why? Because Apple just told the world that this is their new iPad and you'll probably have to wait until later this fall if you want a new iPad.
It also means that the 128 GB iPad is going to go head-to-head with whatever Surface Pro or other Windows 8 tablets running ARM or Intel chips. Apple is saying to the market that the tablet market is its own and no one else's. No one messes with its top end territory.
It also means that Apple has finally gotten a handle on some production issues relating to the iPad. Hopefully, that means the iPad mini supply should come more into line with what consumers can expect from Apple.
Having said that, here's where I get to have fun speculating on the iPad 4 and its strange refresh timing just before Christmas. Maybe it was about trying to stifle Microsoft's big splash into the tablet market with Surface. That would be my bet.
Just as the iPad mini was a way to punch in the guts and take the wind out of competitors like Amazon's Kindle, Google's Nexus 7, and to lesser extents, Barnes and Noble's Nook and Samsung's various screen sized tablets.
Here's the thing. If people were going to buy a larger size iPad, they were going to buy it regardless of whether it was an iPad 3 or iPad 4.
So the faster chip with better graphics in the iPad 4 puzzled me a bit. My guess is this: iOS. We could see some major changes to iOS with the next revision, iOS 7. Because it likely will be able to do a whole lot more, it may require much more processing and graphics power that is inside the current iPad.
If Apple begins to meet iPad mini demands, it doesn't mean is that Apple won't come out with an updated iPad mini this spring. My money is still on a fall fresh but I hope I'm wrong here. The reason has to do with demand.
On top of that, a fresh in the spring likely means Retina Display. And if you thought demand is crazy now ro the iPad mini, wait until Apple releases one with a Retina Display. That'll just send demand through the roof. Apple isn't going to do that when they're just beginning to get a handle on things.
If Apple does refresh the mini in the spring, I think Apple could just release a mini with some improved chip, better graphics, maybe even a better camera, and a 128 GB version. And for this alone, there won't be a media event that we are used to.
What I think is possible is Apple might go back to its pattern of introducing the new iOS version in a special event in March/April and a final release in the summer. Initially, I thought this would be ludicrous. However, if you think about it, not so much and here's why.
Last year, Apple gave some of its biggest supporters and bloggers special copies of the Mountain Lion weeks before everyone else saw it. Then it was later touched upon again at Apple's World Wide Developer Conference in June and then released.
So, it's not impossible to believe that Apple has not already slipped iOS 7 into the hands of the trusted and that we won't see a preview event for both iOS and OS X soon, a refresher of both OS's at the WWDC and a final release soon after.
Again, there are speculations on my part. I don't have sources, I don't deal in rumors, and I make stuff up as best as I can based on what I see in the mobile market. It's just for fun. So, what do you think? I'm off-base or is what I'm saying even remotely plausible?