The iOSphere is still conflicted over the iPad 5 and iPad mini dates, whether it's the start date for mass manufacturing, for the product announcement, or the availability. Eventually, someone is bound to be right.
This week, most agreed that the Next iPads will not be announced on Sept. 10, which is now the widely expected date for the Next iPhone announcement. That leaves the rest of September, October, November and possibly December.
Almost as a reaction to the uncertainty over dates, some iOSpherians were elaborating on all the many ways in which the iPad 5 will "take after" the iPad mini.
Also this week, the fable about Apple parting ways with Foxconn for tablet assembly.
You read it here second.
"Apple is increasingly shifting away from doing business with vendors who are part of the competing Android ecosystem. Foxconn manufactures such tablets on the days it isn't churning out iPads, and Apple has come to suspect that the factory may be leaking product secrets to vendors which Apple considers copycats."
~ Phil Moore, StableyTimes, in a remarkably defamatory post that creates an entire fable from a few known facts, the absence of a few others, and from the substitution of insinuation for logic.
iPad 5, iPad mini 2 to be announced later this fall
While various media sources are reporting the Next iPhone, or iPhones, will be announced by Apple on Sept. 10, the announcement dates of the Next iPads is much less precise, and much less authoritative.
Bloomberg reporters Adam Satariano and Tim Culpan claim that "Updated iPad models, including an iPad with a thinner body design and an iPad mini with a high-resolution screen will be unveiled later" than Sept. 10.
Remarkably, their sources are "two people." Maybe they met them in line while waiting for a latte at their local Starbucks.
The idea is that, just over a year after announcing iPad mini and the quietly updated fourth-generation full-sized iPad, Apple will introduce the follow-on models "in time for holiday shopping." Clearly, that's a good idea.
"The people" repeated to Bloomberg the widely and long accepted rumor that the new 9.7-inch iPad 5 will be modeled stylistically after the iPad mini narrower bezels, rounded edges and so forth, which some bloggers still consider a major/radical/big redesign. And the people also say, again echoing conventional wisdom, that the iPad mini 2 will have a high resolution Retina display like the larger tablet. It's impossible to tell from the Bloomberg story whether these "people" actually have evidence or proof of these claims, or whether they're simply repeating what they've read in other rumor stories.
For Mark Gurman, at 9to5Mac, the Bloomberg story "has corroborated multiple reports regarding Apple's next iPad and iPhone models."
In other words, one more unsubstantiated post "confirm or give support to" numerous other unsubstantiated posts. Calling them "reports" blurs any meaningful distinction between actual reporting and simply rumoring.
Gurman links back to the first such "report," published by MacRumors itself, in January. "We first reported that the next full-sized iPad would be thinner, lighter and similar in design to the iPad mini," Gurman reminds readers. In the January post, Gurman revealed "Today, we received an unverified image from a purported China-based iPad accessories maker....While we cannot confirm that the above image is legitimate, it does provide a solid representation of what Apple's next iPad will likely look like. We were told this is a prototype back piece for the fifth-generation iPad with a 9.7-inch display."
It's not clear how an unverified image, whose legitimacy can't be confirmed, of a prototype can be still be considered a solid representation of what the next iPad will look like.
Over at BGR, Zach Epstein just seems confused by the implications of the Bloomberg post.
Here's how he summarizes it: "After much back and forth in the rumor mill, a new report supports recent claims that Apple will indeed launch its second-generation iPad mini with a Retina display later this year. The news comes from Bloomberg, which says Apple plans to debut the Retina iPad mini and a redesigned full-size iPad ahead of the holidays this year."
In less than two sentences, Epstein interchangeably uses: back and forth (as a noun), rumor mill, report, claims, news, and says.
To repeat, Bloomberg actually "says" nothing of the kind. It only paraphrases what two unidentified and anonymous "people" told the reporters: that the Next iPads will be announced after Sept. 10 but before Dec. 31.
And that means....
iPad 5, iPad mini 2 will be announced in October ... or November
The real value of a Mainstream Media Rumor such as the Bloomberg story is that it lets the passive-aggressive iOSphere mine it for new rumors, because the iOSphere often doesn't read the MMR closely.
The case for October....
"Apple to release Retina iPad mini and iPad 5 in October" is the headline at Haverzine, a small website founded in April 2012 to focus on the "latest top stories in tech."
According to Haverzine "two trustworthy sources are confirming' that Apple will be updating their iPad lineup this October. A recent Bloomberg article is claiming that Apple will be releasing the new iPad lineup some time within the last three months of the year, likely between October and December." Skipping over the fact that trustworthy Bloomberg relies on on "two people" as sources, the story itself nowhere mentions October, November or December. It simply cites its sources as saying that iPads will be announced "later" than the Sept. 10 iPhone announcement.
According to Haverzine, the Bloomberg story information about the iPad mini with Retina display confirms an earlier confirmation in an Aug. 1 story in The Wall Street Journal. Yet here's the Journal's starting paragraph: "Apple Inc.'s suppliers are gearing up for mass production of a new iPad Mini in the fourth quarter that will likely feature a high-resolution screen from Samsung Electronics Co., people familiar with the matter said...."
If the suppliers are ramping up mass production of new iPads in the October-December quarter, when will they actually be announced, and when will they actually be released? Such a schedule could push both events into early 2014.
And, the Journal story signaled a certain caution in evaluating the source's claims. "Apple routinely tests various designs and has been known to make changes late in the design process, so it isn't clear whether the proposed new product will make its way to market. However, an iPad Mini with a retina display appears more likely, particularly after Google Inc. released its latest Nexus 7 tablet last week with a high-resolution screen."
The second trustworthy source, according to Haverzine, is John Gruber, who often covers Apple at his DaringFireball blog. Haverzine links to a recent post by Gruber on the prospects for a low-cost iPhone. He actually mentions the iPad announcement schedule in a footnote to this post: "If I'm right, this would leave the iPad 2 as the last device with a 30-pin port. I expect them to abandon that device in October, when new iPads are announced."
The case for November....
This is weaker, if that's possible.
Citing the same Bloomberg post, the click-trolling site TechThirsty, announces in a headline that "Apple iPad Mini 2 Release Date November, No Cheaper Version of iPad Mini2, iPad 5 Release in Q4 2013."
Ayush Daga apparently didn't actually read the Bloomberg post. He read the MacRumors post about the Bloomberg post, but makes it all sound much more authoritative and, you know, trustworthy than it actually is. "MacRumours has quoted analyst Bloomberg as stating that the iPad 5 and iPad Mini 2 will be released later on this year," Daga writes, apparently now abandoning the November release date mentioned in his own headline.
The only problem is that the MacRumors post in question also doesn't mention "November." It says that Bloomberg says that two people say that the Next iPads will be released sometime in the last three months of this year.
Some more confusion was added when Piper Jaffray stock analyst Gene Munster sent ripples through the iOSphere this week with a note to investors, summarized by among others Philip Elmer-DeWitt, writing Fortune's Apple 2.0 blog.
Munster expects the next iPhones to be announced in September but to ship in October. Because of DeWitt's phrasing, it's unclear whether Munster expects the Next iPads to be announced later in September or later in October. But September, or October, or November for sure. One of em. If not December. Eventually someone will be right.
iPad 5 will "take after" the iPad mini
The rule is: If it's a good rumor, recycle it.
At Ubergizmo, the headline is: "iPad 5 Features Same Thin Touch-Screen Technology As iPad Mini [Rumor].
"[T]he next-generation iPad will most likely resemble a larger iPad Mini by using the same screen technology, making it possible for the next iPad to be both thinner and lighter," writes Daniel Perez. "It looks like those rumors are again resurfacing as the [The Wall Street Journal] published a report saying that's exactly what will happen to the next iPad."
The Journal story, by Juro Osawa and Lorraine Luk, doesn't do much more than restate the long-standing rumor, citing as sources "people with knowledge of the matter." But it does clarify what the rumor is about. "What many consumers generally call a screen' consists of multiple layers, and the touch panel' specifically refers to the layer equipped with touch sensors, between the liquid-crystal display and the outermost cover glass."
The full-size iPad uses a glass on glass panel construction. The iPad mini replaced one glass sheet with a much thinner film, reducing the weight and thickness of the overall assembly. Adapting and adopting the same approach for the larger tablet has been rumored almost since the iPad mini was announced. Contrary to Perez's post, the change would not make the iPad 5 "resemble" the iPad mini.
iPad 5, iPad mini 2 shifted from Foxconn to mystery manufacturer
There's an advanced rumoring technique that takes a known fact, and uses it as lever in a knowledge gap, and turns it into a rumor the size of the Grand Canyon. Currently, no one does this better than the imaginative folks at StableyTimes.com, "a new kind of news."
It's actually is a new kind of fabulism (from the French for "fable"). In literature, it's a form of magical realism "in which fantastical elements are placed into an everyday setting."
Here's the headline: "Apple takes iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 release date from Foxconn."
In case that's not entirely clear, what Phil Moore fantasizes is that Apple and Foxconn, the Taiwan contract manufacturer that assembles many of Apple's mobile products, have fallen out, have been insulting each other, and stabbing each other in the back and, in a huff, Apple has yanked the iPad production contract from Foxconn and given it to another undisclosed OEM manufacturer.
Moore offers not one shred of evidence for any of this.
The known fact is that earlier this year Foxconn announced a quarterly drop in revenue. According to Moore, that "led some to conclude that Apple's iPad and iPhone sales had suddenly fallen off a cliff, as Apple provides Foxconn with the bulk of its business."
But that's wrong. "But Apple's subsequent quarterly reports have revealed that Apple's mobile device sales are doing fine, with iPad sales growth particularly strong [in the recently announced Q3]."
That means something else is happening, right? "That means Apple is taking its business elsewhere, and means changes for the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2 both," Moore declares.
Gosh. Why would Apple do this? There are two reasons, Moore says.
"One is that the company [Foxconn] has become less reliable," he claims. By itself, this is an astonishing claim. Moore asserts facts but nowhere provides evidence to support them. "After two key longtime executives departed Foxconn, its quality control slipped to the point that Apple had to reject thousands of defective units before they got to stores, creating a minor supply constraint at the start of the last iPhone launch."
The second reason is that "Apple is increasingly shifting away from doing business with vendors who are part of the competing Android ecosystem," Moore declares. "Foxconn manufactures such tablets on the days it isn't churning out iPads, and Apple has come to suspect that the factory may be leaking product secrets to vendors which Apple considers copycats."
If Apple was "increasingly shifting away from doing business with vendors who are part of the competing Android ecosystem," it would mean that Tim Cook and the other Apple executives end up in their spare time helping to assemble iPhones and iPad's at Apple's Cupertino headquarters. Because most products like iPhones and iPads are today outsourced to complex, interlocking networks of specialty OEMs that, by definition, profit by serving a wide range of customers, including companies that are direct competitors with each other.
Moore's defamatory comment "Apple has come to suspect that the factory [Foxconn] may be leaking product secrets" is phrased in such a way that it may escape the legal definition of libel. But even so, he doesn't even attempt to present evidence. His reasoning doesn't amount to induction or deduction: its mere insinuation.
"The lack of leaks regarding the iPad 5 or the iPad mini 2, both of which are near launch and may already be in production, can be explained by the fact that Foxconn is no longer the one manufacturing them," Moore declares. There is no such "fact." Moore's "explanation" is sufficient if, and only if, Foxconn was the sole source of previous leaks about iPads.
Foxconn's April dip in revenues was widely noted, and widely interpreted (or perhaps more accurately widely misinterpreted) as evidence for any number of theories, including the collapse of the iPhone market, or as in this post by GigaOm's Erica Ogg a coming drop in Apple's revenues, and so on. The BBC saw the quarter ifferently: "Hon Hai Precision Industry ["Foxconn" is the trading name], a major assembler of Apple products, has posted record quarterly profits helped by growing demand for iPhones and iPads."
And for the most recent quarter, according to the Wall Street Journal, Foxconn "posted a 41% rise in second-quarter net profit, helped by strong iPhone sales."
Apple typically doesn't disclose details of its supplier arrangements or of changes in those arrangements. The problem with Moore's "analysis" is that he doesn't either, though he pretends to.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for "Network World."
Email: [email protected]
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