It seems like Apple’s sixth-generation iPhone will be the first iOS device to boast a brand new, mini dock connector when it launches this fall. But there have been rumors that claim Apple will refresh all its iOS devices to make the new connector a standard across its entire lineup.
Not only does this seem highly unlikely, but there’s one reason why it’s an impossibility: Apple’s supply chain just couldn’t handle a refresh that big.
As noted by ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, there’s a good reason why Apple staggers the release of its iPhone, iPad, and Mac refreshes.
Launching such enormously popular devices puts an absurd strain on the entire component supply chain. Screens and Li-ion batteries in particular are a limiting factor, but so is NAND flash and Silicon-on-a-Chip (SoC) processors.
As soon as the Cupertino company releases a new product, everyone wants it, which sends production into overdrive. You only have to look at the iPhone 4S, the new iPad, and indeed the Retina MacBook Pro to see how its supply chain struggles to cope with the demand; these devices were sold out for weeks after their launch because they — and their components — simply couldn’t be produced fast enough.
Moreover, the sixth-generation iPhone — or “iPhone 5” — is gearing up to be the biggest iPhone yet, with some analysts predicting sales in excess of 200 million units. This device alone is going to put enormous strain on Apple’s supply chain, and you can bet that within 48 of its release, there’ll be a waiting list 4-5 weeks long.
Asking those suppliers to produce extra components for a new iPad and a new iPod touch at the same time would be a disaster. What’s more, it would be a disaster at the worst possible time. The new iPhone’s fall release means it comes right before the highly-profitable holiday period. The last thing Apple wants during this time is a component drought that means it has no iOS devices available for Christmas shoppers.
Kingsley-Hughes and his supply chain sources predict what most of us were expecting. Apple won’t refresh its entire iOS lineup this year, but it will add the new dock connector to the iPad and the iPod when they’re ready to be refreshed:
My bet — based not only on past history but what I’m hearing from the supply chain — is that Apple will stick to the existing release timetable. We’ll likely see an iPhone announcement — where we will also see new iPods announced — come September or October, and this will be followed by an iPad announcement early next year.
The iPhone 5 may not be the only iOS device released this fall, however. The rumored iPad mini could still get its much-anticipated debut, Kingsley-Hughes reports, because Apple may want it to hit the market for the holidays — when it’s likely to be a massive hit.
Having said that, it’s also possible the Cupertino company will wait until next year to release the smaller device to save cannibalizing sales of the 9.7-inch iPad at such a crucial time.
If you were about to pick up a new iPad, then, but you’re holding onto your cash in case a new one arrives with a new dock connector this fall, you’re more than likely wasting your time. Go buy that iPad and start enjoying it now.
Besides, you can always pick up an adaptor if Apple proves us wrong.