Even if the rumour is wrong, which let's face it, is likely, it thrilled our hearts and prompted a tidal wave of page views and repetitive blog posts.
Also this week: a wireless charging patent application by Apple will surely bear fruit in the Next iPad; a counter-narrative promises the Next iPad later this summer; and more from the ongoing soap opera, "One Supply Chain to Manage."
Your read it here second.
iPad 5 to be announced June 29, with original passion, new ideas
This will be a "special releasing event," according to Matthew Lucas, in an "exclusive" post at Gizmorati.
"This year Apple will celebrate six years since the release of the first iPhone, on June 29, 2007," he reveals, citing an "inside source from Apple (also confirmed by a third party)." Even better, we're getting a "twofer." No wonder this special event is being called "Original Passion, New Ideas."
Which, if true, must rank as the Lamest Marketing Slogan in Apple history, lamer even than "The most affordable digital hub just got better" used in 2004 for the then-eMac. (You can find what seems like an exhaustive, and exhausting, list of Apple slogans at this Wikipedia entry.)
Granted, one can make a case that Apple CEO Tim Cook's middle name is Lame. But then anyone compared to the late Steve Jobs is bound to seem so. But "Original Passion, New Ideas" sounds more like something that IBM or Microsoft or Nokia or a candidate for U.S. president would think up.
But Lucas is high on believin' and doesn't shrink from telling us What This Means.
"I believe that a large part of Apple's success is due to the vision and popularity of Steve Jobs and after the recent disappointments like Apple Maps, AAPL stock price going down, weak sales (as TheVerge and Mashable reported) and Tim Cook's approval rating falling, the company is trying to reconquer the public and reassure the investors, showing that Jobs' passion and vision regarding Apple are still contemporary within the company."
That single sentence, which seems to never end, manages to encapsulate every scrap of conventional wisdom of the past 18 months. Part of Steve Jobs' vision was to hire really smart people (or at least people he considered to be really smart) and apparently give them wide latitude and authority to exercise their brains on behalf of the company he founded. Whatever the reasons for the fall in Apple's stock price, it's happening in spite of continued year-to-year growth, and often record growth, in unit sales, revenues and profits, all evidence that the public remains "conquered" and that nothing is going to "reassure" investors who think that good news is, in reality, bad news.
The idea that Apple will announce two or even one new product on June 29 is as good as any idea regarding any date between March 20 and Dec. 30, 2013, though this one on the surface seems potentially flawed by being later than most previous iPad announcements and earlier than the last two iPhone announcements.
But you only have to wait three months and about 10 days to find out.
iPad 5 will have Smart Cover with built-in wireless charger
We know this because Apple previously filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, which released the application into the iOSphere last week.
Patently Apple read it and pretty much repeated it verbatim, so that we end up with an account that reads like a police report of a UFO incident.
"Apple states that the body portion includes an inductive power transmitter arranged to wirelessly pass power to a corresponding inductive power receiver unit disposed within the iPad by inductively coupling, at least a first magnetic element, and at least a second magnetic element used to secure the body portion to the display in a closed configuration. In the closed configuration the first magnetic element is detected by a sensor disposed within the iPad, the detection altering a current operating state of the tablet device."
We get it: You add some magnetic stuff to the Smart Cover and some other magnetic stuff to the iPad, and the former, presumably with the paradoxical help of a charging unit that still has to be plugged into a wall outlet, recharges the latter.
One possible twist, as Patently Apple notes: "In some cases, however, the protective cover can include an internal source of power such as a battery that can be used to store power that can subsequently be passed to the iPad by way of the inductive power transfer circuit."
Of course the patent application nowhere mentions "iPad 5." Nor, to be fair, does Patently Apple. But foretold the possibility of a wirelessly charged iPad 5 while, almost in the same paragraph, dismissing the possibility.
Case in point: the iGeeksBlog, which ran the headline "iPad 5 Features Might Include Wireless Charging? Smart Cover Patents Reveal More," even as it warned that "It is highly unclear whether this feature would be available in the iPad 5, the next version of the iPad expected sometime around April," followed by the encouraging observation that "It should be noted that the patent was actually filed in Q3 2011, giving ample time for Apple to actually work on the technology. This raises our hopes to see some innovative feature like wireless charging on the iPad 5," before finally concluding, "That said, it's all still smoke."
So, no matter happens, they're right.
iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 will be released June, July or August this year
GottaBeMobile's English translation of a Japanese translation of a Chinese language post reveals that the Next iPads will be released in Q3 2013, although how or from whom that is known, or whether it's calendar Q3 or Apple's fiscal Q3, seem to have been lost in one or more of the translations.
The Japanese tech site Macotakara helpfully published its own English translation of its post: "It seems that moreover, iPad (5th generation) which adopted a new package, and iPad mini (2nd generation) which adopted the Retina graphic display will be shipped in the 3rd quarter in 2013."
"Apple is prepping suppliers and components for a iPad mini 2 and iPad 5 release in Q3 2013," says GottaBeMobile's Josh Smith. "This is not the first we've heard of an iPad 5 with a redesign and a rumored iPad mini 2 with a Retina Display, but the details line up with earlier leaks."
Right: the "earlier leaks." In Traditional Journalism, a "leak" is from someone who actually know something, and has a reason to blab it to a reporter, who at least goes through the motions of independently verifying the leak.
In the iOSphere, a leak is more analogous to biogas (colloquially "swamp gas," as in this 20-second video), which Wikipedia describes as "a gas produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. [Technically, 'the anaerobic digestion or fermentation of biodegradable materials such as manure, sewage, municipal waste, green waste,' etc.] It is a renewable energy source, like solar and wind energy."
And rumor energy.
iPad 5 won't use Samsung screens ... unless it does
"Apple won't use Samsung screens for iPad 5 and iPad mini 2" declares the bold headline at iDownloadBlog, over a post by Christian Zibreg.
This is, Zibreg assures us, "another hint of Apple distancing itself from Samsung" because, you know, they have all those courtroom battles over smartphone patents.
"[W]e hear the Cupertino firm may have already dropped Samsung entirely as the maker of next-gen panels for a fifth-generation iPad and a second-generation iPad mini," Zibreg writes.
The "we hear" is a nice touch. It suggests a kind of good-ole-geek network of in-the-know folks texting and Skyping and emailing all kinds of juicy details unknown to the Masses.
In actual fact, "we hear" means precisely that Zibreg read a post at the Korea Economic Daily website -- or more likely read an English translation of the original Korean post. According to Zibreg, KED "cites industry reports claiming Apple sent out its requests for quotation for new Retina screens to LG Display, Sharp, Japan Display and AU Optronics, but not to Samsung Display." (It's not clear how these "reports" -- whatever that means -- could know either the complete list of these suppliers or, more importantly, whether the list they had was in fact complete.)
The request for quotation "is a document [that] firms like Apple send to component suppliers," Zibreg explains. "In it, the buyer (Apple) inquires about prices quotations for specified components and parts."
"As this document is usually sent five-ten months prior to a product's launch (to give suppliers ample time to deliver the order), it's the first step of the component purchase process and as such a credible hint of the upcoming changes in Apple's manufacturing process." It's probably more accurate to describe it as an indication of possible changes in Apple's manufacturing relationships, which, by the very nature of a global supply chain for consumer electronics products selling tens of millions of units yearly, is always being adjusted and fine-tuned.
But for Zibreg, it seems pretty much a slam-dunk. Until this sentence: "On the other hand, iNews, South Korea's tech news site, mentions that Samsung and Apple have not yet begun the separation process on mobile screens."
So on top of the credible hint that Apple has dumped Samsung as its display supplier we have a credible hint that Apple has not dumped Samsung as its display supplier.
According to Zibreg, iNews quotes "Samsung president Kim Ki-nam" (It's actually Kinam Kim, at least according to the English version of a Samsung press release, and he's president and CEO of Samsung Display Co., Ltd) as saying the rumor that Apple dropped Samsung as a display supplier is "not necessarily true."
"Interestingly enough, the guy added that a possibility of Apple adopting Samsung components still exists, though I'd bet my shirt that was just his wishful thinking," Zibreg confidently declares.
But the brief iNews account, which is confusing enough via Google Translate, doesn't actually support Zibreg's interpretation or confidence. To a reporter's question -- exactly what the question was isn't clear in Google Translate, but presumably something along the lines of "Has Apple cancelled your display contract?" -- Kim said, "not exactly."
The iNews/Google Translate account continues: "KN president, he said 'yes' to the question if there's a possibility in this regard in future Apple products, Samsung parts continue to be mounted."
All of which suggests that the supply chain and OEM relationships that Zibreg is trying to analyze are more complex and fluid than he thinks. For example, he writes that "Apple's manufacturing partner Foxconn has been trying to buy eleven percent of Sharp for months, but has cancelled all acquisition talks after learning about Sharp going to bed with Samsung."
Yet Reuters filed a more nuanced story on March 8 about the deal, based on an article in Japan's Asahi Shimbun, one of the country's leading daily newspapers.
Reuters: "Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd [Foxconn's parent] will not invest in Sharp Corp by a March 26 deadline after the two firms failed to revise an earlier agreement, although the Taiwanese company has not ruled out an investment altogether, a newspaper said."
Asahi Shimbun didn't reveal its sources. "Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou met Sharp's bankers to inform them no deal would be struck this month but he would look at the merits of an investment after the struggling Japanese display maker unveils a new business plan in the near future ..."
According to Reuters' account, the original Hon Hai investment deal foundered on two issues: Hon Hai wanted a degree of management control, and a lower price tag on the deal after Sharp's stock plunged following big losses in 2012, losses that sparked a bailout by Sharp's banks. Sharp refused both demands. Samsung's recently announced $110 million investment wins it just a 3% stake in Sharp; Qualcomm previously invested $120 million in Sharp.
So which companies will supply the iPad 5 displays? Based on the current rumors, no one knows the answer.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World. Twitter: @johnwcoxnww Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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