Apple to “Completely Overhaul” iPad, iPhone, iMac, MacBook Air

The Apple Crystal BallApple is planning to “completely overhaul” at least four of its product lines over the course of 2012, according to Taiwan-based newspaper DigiTimes. Citing unnamed sources in Apple’s supply chain, the newspaper reported that Apple would be bringing major changes to iPad, iPhone, iMac, and MacBook Air.

At first blush, this may seem obvious, but recent changes to these product lines have all been relatively minor tweaks and spec upgrades. For instance, the last MacBook Air update used the same form factor as the previous generation, but included Thunderbolt, more RAM, and new Sandy Bridge i5 and i7 processors. The iPhone 4S, of course, also used the same form factor as 2010’s iPhone 4.

The report doesn’t specify what those major changes might be, but it did say that the new iMacs and iPhones were being targeted for a release in the second half of 2012.

Another tidbit to leak is that Apple has supposedly asked suppliers to develop flat panel modules and LED light bars for two different iPad prototypes. Those sources said the prototypes were code named J1 and J2.

What might be different about these prototypes we don’t know, or why Apple has asked for two different ones, but for the last year, rumors of an iPad with a much higher resolution have been circulating, and it’s possible that these rumors might dovetail together.

The last thing mentioned in the report is that Apple’s supply chain has enough parts on hand to produce two million “next generation iPads” by the end of 2011. The unstated implication is that these would ship in the first quarter of 2012 when Apple is likely to release an update to the iPad 2, and are not related to the the J1 and 2 prototypes. Your mileage may vary.

DigiTimes is an English-language newspaper in Taiwan that has published many and more reports about unreleased Apple products over the years. It used to have a reputation for getting many of its stories wrong, but for the last two-to-three years, its accuracy has improved as its network of sources within Apple’s supply chain has improved.