With recent updates to almost every major Apple product range (iMac, Mac mini, MacBook Pro, iPad and iPod family) and the MacBook Air updated in June there’s really not much left for Apple to update in the first half of 2013.
So what’s Cupertino planning?
It is the updated fourth-generation iPad that has really thrown the cat amongst the pigeons, this is traditionally launched in the first half of the year. By updating it prior to the holiday season, along with almost every other product, Apple has one hell of a Christmas line-up.
See also: iPad mini review
It also has a big hole where Spring should be.
With everything now updated a lot of people (well, us) are wondering about the first half of next year. What is Apple going to launch in the first half of next year now that it’s updated just about everything?
As far as we can see that leaves the Apple TV and Mac Pro. We’d sorely like to see a new Mac Pro, and the Apple TV could use an App Store-based shot-in-the-arm; but I think we can all agree that these aren’t Apple’s marquee products.
So what will Apple be doing in the first half of next year? There’s a few theories doing the rounds.
Theory One: The fourth-gen iPad update is a blip
That’s one theory: It could, of course, just be a blip in order to bring Lightning to the full iOS range and ensure uniformity of devices and cables as quickly as possible (a good move on Apple’s part).
The presence of a faster processor and better camera being just icing on the cake (really, third-generation iPad owners need not feel out of pocket – the device is likely to function identically to the third-generation iPad).
Apple could return next year to updating the iPad in the late Spring (thin thinner and iPad mini styling) and a new iPhone 5S in the Autumn and then it’s back to business as usual.
Theory Two: Apple is moving to a six-month update cycle
Another theory is that Apple is moving to a six month schedule of updates for its key products: the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch range. In the months leading up to the launch of the iPhone 5, rival models (in particular the Samsung Galaxy S3) were displaying a clear hardware advantage over Apple’s model.
While Apple’s devices remain steadfastly more popular (there’s a lot more to devices than pure specifications). Apple only has one phone, and a yearly update may not be moving fast enough. Many iPhone customers buy a new phone on a two-yearly cycle, so the two-model system (new iteration, and then update with ‘S’ works); there’s no reason why having four phones in a two year cycle would be problematic for regular consumers (the extreme ‘I must have everything’ fans might have to start rethinking though).
Theory Three: Apple is clearing the decks for a ‘reinvention’
This is the interesting theory. And therefore the one we’d most like to be true (and probably therefore isn’t). Apple does constant innovation (Siri, iTunes Match, iCloud strike us a three recent examples) and every so often it attempts something grander: ‘reinvention’.
Apple reinvented the home computer, music player, mobile phone, and tablet computer (just one of those is more than most companies ever manage). So what’s next?
The Apple Television (the full TV rather than the Apple TV box) is a rather high-profile candidate. But that does seem to depend on Apple getting the deals lined up with the content providers, and that seems to be a stumbling block.
Other leftfield ideas include the iBike, iCar, and iSpecs (a Google Glasses augmented reality eyewear type innovation) all of which Apple has patents on or are ideas that Steve Jobs worked on. Although we’d bet on the television before any of the others - we wouldn't be on the bike or car at all.
Whatever happens in early 2013. You can bet we’ll be first in line to report on it.
Image: iMove - Device Mag