Why there won’t be a New iPad refresh this Fall

There’s been some chatter that Apple might release a refreshed New iPad this Fall. I don’t think so. Here’s why.

 Summary (in case you don’t want to read all the detail)

  • There won’t be a refreshed New iPad this fall
  • The Lightning connector is Apple’s final dedicated device connector
  • But the new Lightning connector isn’t worth of a full iPad refresh
  • Other “reasons” for updating the iPad don’t make sense either

There won’t be a refreshed New iPad this fall

I think it’s extremely unlikely that Apple will release some sort of “updated iPad” with a Lightning connector, faster processor, better battery life, some sort of “heat issue” resolution, or any of the other rumored improvements.

The Lightning connector is Apple’s final dedicated device connector

Apple’s new connector has caused quite a stir among those who rely on the 30-pin connector. I think the Lightning connector is great (I love it on the iPhone 5), and I think a decade of one connector is plenty. Frankly, I hate the 30-pin connector, and it seems anachronistic to me. Thirty pins? C’mon. We don’t need 30 pins. Going to a small connector is necessary because devices are shrinking, especially in the “thickness” dimension. Apple has gone to great lengths to squeeze every last millimeter out of their devices, and moving to the much-smaller Lightning connector is a logical step down that path.

I haven’t predicted this elsewhere, so I might as well predict it here: The Lightning connector will be the last dedicated device connector Apple makes. It’s built to be future proof, and will probably outlast its own utility pretty easily. Wireless charging will be mainstream within 10 years, and wireless syncing is already taking off. Wireless data speeds are increasing rapidly, and our ability to “soft-sync” (a term I just made up) is growing with features like Power Nap. This means we don’t have to actually wait for things to sync anymore since they’re always syncing in the background whenever they get the chance.

But the new Lightning connector isn’t worth of a full iPad refresh

Despite the Lightning connector’s superiority to the 30-pin connector, it makes absolutely no sense for Apple to refresh the iPad mid-cycle just to include this new connector. Releasing a brand new version of the product just to accommodate the new connector strikes me as totally ludicrous. Apple is finally fully ramped-up on production for the current iPad hardware, and they would have to re-ramp part of their production line to accommodate this (or any) change. I don’t see the payoff for doing that. What do they gain by forcing an update to the Lightning connector on the already-successful iPad? I can’t think of a single benefit that wouldn’t be just as potent with the next iPad in April.

Other “reasons” for updating the iPad don’t make sense either

Faster processor – Most of the concerns from the Lightning connector carry over here. Additionally, the current iPad is still one of the most responsive tablets on the market. There’s no reason to rush out a mid-cycle update to cram in a faster processor. The cost seems pretty great (to Apple), but the benefit seems almost non-existent.

Better Battery Life – All the stuff above, just repeated here. The battery life on the iPad is market-leading and phenomenal. There’s no tangible benefit to doing a mid-cycle refresh to get a little extra battery life. I use my iPad daily, usually for multiple hours, and I only charge it every third or fourth day. My guess is I use my iPad more than most (but less than some really heavy users like traveling bloggers), so if I’m only charging every few days, most people are only charging every five days or so. That’s pretty amazing.

Addressing the “Heat Issue” – I think the “Heat Issue” is about 95% hype with no real substance. I’ve been using my New iPad daily since I got it earlier this year. Yes, it gets warm sometimes, but never so warm that I have to stop using it, or even that I have to use it differently. I also kept an eye on all the “reports” of New iPad running hot earlier this year–almost all of them basically said, “Well, it’s warm, but… not super hot or anything.”1

Final thoughts

I see no reason for Apple to roll out a mid-cycle updated New iPad. It makes no sense. They would basically be spending a lot of time and money to address issues that aren’t actually issues. Not happening.