About Possible Release Dates for Unannounced Products

February 5th, 2015

Now Apple has mostly fallen into a sort of predictable schedule for some products and services. So you know there will be a WWDC some time in June, where new versions of iOS and OS X will be demonstrated. There may be more products, such as the Swift developer language. By September, you’ll see new iPhones, and maybe some outsider product, such as Apple Watch. October will bring new iPads, but Macs are mostly announced with press releases nowadays unless they are part of another media event.

So that opens up room for all sorts of speculation, such as new OS features and how Apple will change their mobile gear and whether some new Macs will enter the mix. Indeed, Mac updates may occur at other times during the year, perhaps in spring, but still they will be mostly heralded with a press release.

With Apple Watch, we know it’ll arrive in April since Tim Cook said so, and I suspect there will be a proper media event by then to tempt potential customers, reveal more features, and give a longer-range focus on where this product might be going. I suppose there could be other introductions, but it’s not at all certain.

Indeed, there’s no a rumor of an Apple press conference in late February where Apple Watch may be demonstrated, along with a rumored 12-inch MacBook Air with Retina display. But the same rumor claims the upgraded MacBook Air won’t be out until late March, so the timing doesn’t really make a lot of sense. If a combined event, wouldn’t it happen maybe a week or two out from the on-sale date?

If there is to be a major upgrade for Apple TV this year, that would also seem to require extensive media coverage. I suppose if deals with content providers and carriers aren’t set, there might be a fast and dirty 4K (Ultra HD) refresh, but that probably be heralded with a press release. If there’s something major in the winds, the final game plan for Apple’s former hobby, again getting the press assembled in one room, with proper streaming coverage online, would be appropriate.

It’s only common sense.

But what about other unannounced Apple products? Take the alleged iPad Pro, a bigger iPad Air 2, or something like that, with a 12-inch or larger display. If such a beast were to appear in the real world, what would it be aimed for? Would Apple be trying to convert possible note-book users to iPads by offering more screen real estate? Would it come with a keyboard cover in the style of a Surface? Why would Apple want to imitate a failed product? And, yes, selling one million of anything at Apple would be an abject failure nowadays, and that’s what Microsoft appears to be touting for the Surface Pro 3.

I suppose there’s a potential enterprise purpose for an iPad Pro. Perhaps content creators might have reason to want a more powerful iPad with a bigger display to do audio and video editing. But wouldn’t a traditional note-book, such as a MacBook Pro with Retina display, be more suitable? I’m just trying to understand the focus of such a product if it’s going to come to be.

Most important, I don’t think Apple will fall into the trap of offering lots of iPad variants as a means to jumpstart sales, because it might be little better than throwing darts on the wall, which isn’t a part of Apple’s methodology. No, there would have to be a long-range plan at the outset for different sized iPads before they are unleashed. I realize the supply chain might report that such products exist largely because prototypes have been built, but a prototype is not necessarily a finished product.

So speculating about when such gear might appear must seem an exercise in futility. When is Apple’s rumored connected TV set going to be out?

Of course, when predicted gear doesn’t show up, there can always be the argument that some sort of development or production glitch delayed the product. There were such claims about the Apple Watch, but I doubt very many people outside of Apple know how the design process went, or whether the final product was introduced later than Apple intended.

At least when it comes to a totally new product line, Apple can announce it weeks or months in advance without hurting sales of existing gear. That may not necessarily apply to a new form factor for an existing product, but something unique might be introduced as a way to tempt you to consider buying something you may not have previously thought about.

So there’s been much talk about the Apple Watch and its sales prospects. While only the price of the entry-level model, at $349, has been revealed, there’s speculation of how high it’ll go when gold is added to the mix. $5,000 perhaps?

Will Apple consider the possibility of chassis swaps, so as to future proof Apple Watch? I realize The Mac Observer’s John Martellaro has made such a suggestion, but I wouldn’t presume to know whether the existing design makes it practical. It does go against Apple’s usual approach. Well, except for the Mac Pro, where you can even upgrade the Xeon processor as newer and faster chips become available.

Still, it’s fun to speculate about what products Apple is concocting, and when said products might see the light of day. Just because something is rumored, however, doesn’t mean it’s time to speculate when it might be available.

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