Is Apple Moving to Shorter Product Cycles?

The “iPad with Retina Display,” or as we call it, the “iPad 3rd generation,” launched on March 16th, 2012. It featured a retina display and many other features including the Apple A5X processor, making it the most powerful iPad up to that point.

Then, in September, we saw the release of the iPhone 5. This device had a plethora of advancements over the previous generation, and included technologies that would go on to redefine Apple’s entire lineup of iOS devices. The Lightning dock connector was one of these new “standards” that we expected to be included across future iOS devices. Apple had, after all, already included it on the new iPod touch and iPod nano on that very day. But what about the iPad?

October 23rd was the day everyone was looking forward to. The day that the long-rumored iPad mini would finally be announced. Now, on that day, many blogs across the web expected a few things: one being the release of the iPad mini, two being a re-released iPad 3rd generation with a Lightning connector, and third, the hopeful release of iTunes 11 due to Apple’s “November” claimed release window.

We all know about the third one. iTunes 11 wasn’t released until the very end of November, on the 29th. But that’s not what this post is about.

What about the re-released iPad? Apple decided not to just re-release the iPad 3rd generation with a new connector. They decided to launch what they called the “4th generation” iPad, giving the platform an entire refresh cycle in under eight months. Now, the “iPad 4″ is not a drastic change; it only had the new connector, a new processor (the A6X), and an upgraded front camera. However, it’s important to note that Apple did in fact refer to this minor upgrade as the “4th generation” release.

Today, photos of a purported iPhone 5S surfaced surprisingly early. Typically we don’t see leaks of the “next-generation” device until the months prior to its release, and seeing prototypes of what seems to be another minor revision this early is surprising. Does this mean that an iPhone 5S is in the near future? I have no doubt that we will see one within at least a year, but we don’t know for sure yet if Apple will stray from their traditional annual product life cycles.

It makes me think that maybe Apple will soon be adopting shorter times between product generations. Maybe they want to do more frequent, more incremental updates. Why they would want to do this, I don’t really know yet, but it doesn’t seem to be the best for the consumer. Apple fans are already rushing to the store every year to always have the latest device, and I doubt that would change if Apple made the time between those devices shorter. I think I just answered my own question.


Post a response / What do you think?