updated 09:51 am EST, Mon December 24, 2012
Would be thinner, more lightweight
Apple may be preparing a fifth-generation iPad for release just months after the fourth-gen model, a Macotakara source claims. The person mentions few details, except that the tablet will allegedly be styled after the iPad mini, ship in March, and shrink in thickness and weight compared to this year's full-sized iPads, claims other rumors have also mentioned. Both the third- and fourth-generation iPads are slightly thicker and heavier than the iPad 2.
A March launch would mark an even faster turnaround than the one for the fourth-gen iPad, but might nevertheless make sense. The fourth-gen tablet was essentially an interim update, taking the third-gen design and upgrading it with a Lightning connector, a faster processor, a new graphics chip and better wireless support.
Apple may have simply wanted to ensure that the "last" of the present iPad design was Lightning-compatible, relatively future-proofed, and able to compete with more aggressive competition including the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the Google Nexus 10. Early sales reports would indicate that the fourth-gen iPad is on par with its predecessor, though the iPad mini is thought to be selling even better.
If the alleged next iPad takes after the Mini, a fifth-gen iPad would adopt different edges, and the black and silver backs used not only for the Mini but the iPhone 5. Currently, picking a black or white full-sized iPad only changes the color of the front.
There is also the possibility that rumors of a new iPad coming relatively soon could be started by sources wishing to see sales of the current iPad fall off in the next quarter; to hurt sales with a big debut from a competitor, for example, or to force Apple to show its hand on a replacement by issuing a confirmation or denial. The rumor could also be floated simply to manipulate the stock, as is often the case with unsourced rumors.
AAPL closed for the holidays up slightly to $520.17, up $9 from its seasonal low point of $511 but still in the midst of an unexplained slump that has seen its price decline from a high of just over $700 per share. Despite the recent downturn, the stock is still up significantly from its 52-week low of $400.