By Jim Karpen on Tue, 07/23/2013
All the evidence continues to point toward Apple's rumored low-cost iPhone and an updated 5th-generation iPad that's thinner and lighter being on track for an early September launch. However, according to AppleInsider, the iPhone 5S is much more challenging to manufacture, and production problems with various components could push back its availability to late September. And even then, supplies would be constrained but would gradually increase through October and November. A separate post on AppleInsider about the forthcoming iPad mini says the expected model with Retina display could be delayed until next March or April. It would launch alongside a second new version that would be somewhat lower-priced than the current iPad mini and without a Retina display.
If that's true, the question is whether Apple will come out with a tweaked model this fall or simply wait until next spring to update the iPad mini. Apparently the Retina display in current iPad mini prototypes is consuming too much battery life, so Apple is having to re-engineer the components to use less energy. The market analyst quoted by AppleInsider says he thinks Apple will simply wait until next year.
And in yet another post, AppleInsider notes current production issues with the display for the iPad mini, causing Apple to drop one of its suppliers. Part of the problem is that Apple is moving to a new display technology for the next-generation iPad mini that will consume less power, but one of the suppliers simply wasn't able to produce enough defect-free displays. Apple may look to Samsung to fill the gap.
This again highlights the uncertainties in manufacturing devices, and how Apple itself likely doesn't know until a late stage when a product will actually be ready. Many of the issues are due to Apple's commitment to high-quality devices, as well as its tendency to push the envelope by using the latest state-of-the-art technologies.
Apple is in no hurry to get products to market and simply takes whatever time is necessary to get it right. Also, the company has more money than most and can afford to lead the way in integrating the latest technological developments, such as the anticipated fingerprint sensor, into its products.
Despite the uncertainties, it's great to see that it appears that the low-cost iPhone and next-generation iPad with 9.7-inch display are on track, especially since the June quarter ended without a new product launch—which hasn't often happened.
Later today Apple will be releasing its quarterly results. It will be interesting to see the numbers, especially since there were no new products to goose sales. The stock price has likely already taken that into account, and some are thinking today's numbers may exceed expectations somewhat.