It’s a pretty safe bet at this point that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is releasing new iPads in 2017. Rumors had been pointing to a March special event for AAPL to take the wraps off its latest tablets, including the iPad Air 3 and two new iPad Pro models.
However, a newly released report — based on information from Apple’s supply chain — suggests the launch may be pushed to the second half of 2017.
New iPads Delayed
9to5Mac reported on a Digitimes story based on sources from within Apple’s supply chain. These sources claim that the new iPads are still in the planning stage, and may not be released or even announced until the second half of 2017.
Many Apple watchers expected a March special event announcing the new iPads (the 9.7-inch iPad Pro was unveiled at a March 2016 event), but that timeframe now seems in doubt. Summer product announcements are practically unheard of. Everyone is in vacation mode and not paying close attention to what tech companies are doing. That makes a fall announcement and release the most likely option if spring falls through.
MacRumors elaborated on potential causes for the delay, besides the generic “being stuck in the design phase” description. The site points to speculation that the new A10X processor, which would power the new iPad Pro models, is running into manufacturing challenges. Reports since December have said the chips are suffering from lower than expected yield rates.
If so, this wouldn’t be the first time pushing the boundaries of technology has tripped up Apple, or other consumer tech companies. Fitbit Inc (NYSE:FIT) and GoPro Inc (NASDAQ:GPRO) both faced retail shortages of new products prior to Christmas due to production issues.
What to Expect: New iPad Pro Models and iPad Air 3
While nothing is certain when trying to anticipate AAPL’s moves, the expectation of what the company will release in terms of new iPads is beginning to firm up.
The consensus among Apple watchers and analysts is leaning toward a second generation, 12.9-inch iPad Pro, powered by the A10X chip. This is AAPL’s flagship tablet, competing against the likes of Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Surface Pro 4. Apple will want to keep its momentum in the professional/enterprise tablet space.
An all-new iPad Pro model in the form of a 10.5-inch, bezel-free device that’s a more business-friendly size than the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro likely will make its debut.
As for the 9.7-inch form factor, that’s up in the air. It’s too small for many business users, so there’s a good chance Apple will drop the “Pro” designation. Instead, it would become the new low-cost midsize tablet in the Apple lineup, repackaged as the iPad Air 3.
Experts also expect a new version of the Apple Pencil stylus to be in the mix.
If the Digitimes report is correct and AAPL is forced to push the release of new iPads to the second half of the year, the company could have a very crowded calendar come fall.
The 10th anniversary iPhone 8 is a given for September. There are rumors that an Apple Watch Series 3 could accompany the new iPhone on stage. Analysts are calling for a refreshed MacBook Pro with new Kaby Lake CPUs from Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) to go into production in the third quarter. The Apple TV is also overdue for a refresh, and fall is typically when it gets featured.
That may make for a quiet spring for Apple.
Updated iMacs and MacBooks might give it something to show off. But going into the holiday shopping season, AAPL would have a killer lineup of new products, including that all-important iPhone 8, plus long-awaited new iPads.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.