Rumor Roundup: Apple’s New Products

| Analysis

Rumors are flying fast and furious about almost every major Apple product. Here’s a roundup of all the rumors and how good we think the rumors are.

New MacBook Pros. The rumors about the new MacBook Pros include a thinner profile, no SuperDrive, a Retina display, USB3 and Ivy Bridge CPU. The Ivy Bridge chips, mobile, are already shipping in the Dell Alienware, so that’s a no-brainer. As for ditching the SuperDrive, that’s almost a certainty, given Apple’s track record with the MacBook Air.

MBARumors: new MBPs will follow design of MBAs (Image Credit: Apple)

USB3, which is built into Ivy Bridge, would be an insanely good idea, and if that pans out, suggests that Apple is being more pragmatic — a welcome change. However, that’s probably 50/50 and may depend on the model and product positioning. As for the Retina display, that sounds great, and sources are fairly certain this is coming, but I’d be prepared to be disappointed if the plans falls through for, perhaps, supply reasons.

Timing: Summer, but perhaps not at WWDC. Apple has gotten away from product refresh announcements at WWDC, and WWDC is all about iOS these days, not a MacBook Pro refresh. Accordingly, Apple may release it when Mountain Lion is also ready to ship.

iPad 7-inch. This one is almost a certainty, but I don’t think Apple will call it the iPad mini. It sounds too much like a feminine hygiene product. Let’s call it the “iPad 7-inch.” Most sources suggest that the display will actually be 7.85 inches. It’s virtually a certainty because Apple would probably like to close the door on the only remaining, sensible, tablet screen size that competitors like Amazon and Samsung can cash in on.

9 and 7 inch iPads9- and possible 7-inch iPads (image Credit: Apple & TMO concept)

Some have suggested that the pricing will be in the $200-299 range, but I doubt that. Historically, Apple charges a premium for a premium product and gives itself room for various discounts. I’m thinking along the lines of $349 for 16 GB model. That would also protect iPod touch sales which are still quite respectable.

Timing: Early to mid October, in time to get people excited for the Christmas buying season and divert them from an improved, second generation Kindle Fire.

iPhone 5. Actually, the 6th generation of Apple iPhone. (iPhone, 3G, 3GS, 4, 4S, 5). Whether it’ll be the “new iPhone” or the iPhone 5 is anyone’s guess. I’m going with iPhone 5 because there are so many iPhones out there, and they’re on the consciousness of so many people who clearly want to have the latest and greatest — proven by the model number.

The most persistent rumors are LTE support and a 4-inch display Other rumors include the possible use of liquid metal. Here’s a gallery of possible designs.

iPhone 5 concept

Image Credit: Cult of Mac

Apple appears to be under some competitive pressure to increase the size of the iPhone dislay slightly. That will please some and annoy others. Additional rumors suggest that the iPhone 5 will have a quad core A6 processor, a change from the traditional 30-pin connector to inductive charging and Near Field Communications (NFC) to support a digital wallet.

Not surprisingly, rumors are that Apple will start production in June, and that the company is cutting back on orders for the current iPhone 4S to account for possible decline in 4S sales as the rumors heat up.

In order of probability, my list, from highest to lowest, is:

  1. LTE
  2. A6 quad core CPU
  3. 4-inch screen
  4. NFC
  5. Inductive charging

Timing: Apple has fallen into an October release cycle starting with the iPhone 4S, and forcing an earlier date would feel wrong for all those who just bought a 4S. So October 2012 is everyone’s best guess. iOS 6, with Apple’s new geo mapping, replacing Google Maps, it is surmised, will be released with the iPhone 5 and iPad 7-inch.

New iMacs. The last upgrade was in August, 2011. With the Ivy Bridge chips available, it’s no great stretch of the imagination that Apple will be upgrading the iMac as well. In fact, some benchmarks seem to have been leaked and are mentioned by Cult of Mac . These correspond to a quad core Ivy Bridge i7-3770 running at 3.4 GHz.

One rumor I saw suggested an option for non-reflective glass. Other than the customary larger disk drive and faster graphics, not much new is swirling about this refresh.

iMacCustomary CPU & GPU refresh. Not much else. (Image Credit: Apple)

As an aside, and I haven’t seen any explicit rumors, I think it’s unlikely we’ll see the SuperDrive dropped from the iMac line. There is plenty of room, and many desktop users still depend on that technology. The real kicker is whether FireWire 800 will disappear, but I think it’s too early for that. That’ll be next year, when Thunderbolt is more mature.

Timing: AppleInsider thinks June or maybe July.

iCloud Upgrade. According to the Wall Street Journal and “people familiar with the matter,” Apple will be releasing an upgrade to iCloud that includes new photo sharing features. This is seen as Apple’s response to the growing popularity of photo sharing at Facebook/Instagram and will likely be rolled out with iOS 6.

Timing: Almost a certainty, I believe, and in concert with iOS 6.

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Comments

Lee Dronick

I just fired off a stern email to the news director of a local TV station because they reported an Apple rumor as fact.

geoduck

Timing: Summer, but perhaps not at WWDC.

Argh! Release the MacBook Pros already! I wanted to get one last fall but we just got a modest speed bump.

but I don?t think Apple will call it the iPad mini.

How about iPod Extreme?

next year, when Thunderbolt is more mature.

For “mature” how about available. Sure there’s a handful of pro devices, plus the amazing and amazingly expensive Apple display, but for most of us there’s still nothing.

Not on your list is a refresh to the Macintosh Pro.

webjprgm

Not on your list is a refresh to the Macintosh Pro.

Or the mini.  Or the MacBookAir, unless you were implying that the possible Air-like MacBookPro would merge MBP and MBA lines.

If I remember right, MBP update in 2011 was one early in the year and a small speed bump late in the year.  iMac and mini were both released at the same time late summer, I think MBAs the same time as that?  But who knows if Apple will keep to the same schedule this year, because they keep changing things.

Ross Edwards

The last iMac update for any normal folks was May 3, 2011.  The August “version” is just an educational SKU.  So we are currently in the longest drought between real iMac revisions since the basketball-stand era.  And for people like me who are champing at the bit to upgrade an early 2009 or 2008 unit… the wait has been frustrating, to say the least.

And yet the Mac Pro folks have had it worse.

geoduck

The last iMac update for any normal folks was May 3, 2011.

And yet the Mac Pro folks have had it worse.

I wonder if this is because Apple has been putting most of its engineering and development resources into iPhone/iPad/iOS. It’s high time that the Mac got a little attention from the company.

Quin

So John,  “iPad mini” reminds you of things feminine ; but “iPad 7 inch”  sounds ok?

geoduck

but ?iPad 7 inch?  sounds ok?

They’ll all claim to have the 10”

Stewart Hrt

MAC PRO!

Sam

Yeah, Anyone got any solid info on the Mac Pro??

danf

Apple wants out of the computer business.  They are mesmerized by iphone.  The specs on the new MacBook Pro suggest a looser.  If thinner was what I wanted, Id buy a macbook air.  If I want a full featured laptop, Id buy a macbook pro.  But now it sounds like the 2 products lines are the same and if I want an optical drive or ethernet port I’m out of luck….

Maybe the 100 point drop in apple stock recently is not so off base after-all

Sam

But surely there is a market here?...

Lee Dronick

Maybe to get the stock back up Apple needs to Greece the wheels.

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