2013 iPads

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

Apple is a very predictable company.

Apple won’t be updating the iPads again until Fall 2013. These fall, pre-holidays announcements have been Apple’s bread and butter for over ten years now, going back to the fall iPod and music events. Beginning with Apple’s departure from Macworld Expo, held every January, Apple has been seeking to shift its product schedule1 to align better with the holiday season. The awkwardness of the April update schedule of the iPads have been on until now was, if anything, further proof of the need to focus around the holiday season. The current lineup will remain unchanged through the spring and summer.2

When they do update the iPad line, I’m predicting a breakdown like this:

  • 5th generation iPad. As thin and light as the iPad 2. (Finally.)
  • The iPad 2 disappears.
  • An all-new iPad mini with retina display. Slightly thicker. And all the usual tweaks and improvements Apple usually makes with each model — camera improvements, smart cover improvements, etc.
  • 1st generation iPad mini as a lower-cost option.

The main detail missing here is price. If Apple is to replace the iPad 2 with a 5th generation iPad, the lowest priced model will be $399. This seems plausible given the assumption that it is mostly the same as the 4th generation iPad but thinner and smaller.

But what about the 1st generation iPad mini? I think a safe bet is $279. But I could see Apple pricing it as low as $249. Even at that low of a price point, I’m not too worried about iPod touch cannibalization. Previous generation iPod touches are $199. A previous generation 16GB iPad mini at $249 would not be a significant threat to a brand new 32GB iPod touch at $299.

Now, I could be really wrong. Apple could leave the 4th generation iPad around as the cheaper option and push forward even further technically with a 5th generation iPad, thinness be damned. Anything could happen; Apple is a very unpredictable company.

  1. Let’s leave aside Macs for the time being. Not only are they more beholden to Intel’s schedule for new processor releases but Macs do a significant amount of back-to-school business, having some form of update in the summer makes ense, especially for models popular among students like laptops. 

  2. Yes, this means they’re selling iPads with 30-pin dock connectors. But they’re also selling iPods and iPhones with the same connectors and will be for quite a while. The transition to Lightning will take time.