iPad Mini Could Set the Stage for Next Year

I’ve been thinking a lot about the timing of the rumored iPad Mini announcement. John Gruber really got my thoughts going when he published his piece on Thursday entitled “Sharing the Stage.”

Gruber writing about Apple’s fall product announcements:

I’m thinking it makes more sense for Apple to hold two events. First, an iPhone event, focused solely on the new iPhone and iOS 6. Then, the iPhone ships nine days later, and there’s another wave of iPhone-focused attention as the reviews come out. Then, in the first or second week of October, Apple holds its traditional “music event”, exactly along the lines of the events at which they’ve been debuting new iPods for the last decade.

He suggests that Apple may announce the iPad Mini at a second event to be held in October, but why announce it before Christmas? It seems to me they’d be better off spending this holiday season with the new iPad, iPhone, and soon to be announced new iPod offerings — none of which will be more than 9 months old — saving the iPad Mini announcement for January and keeping it from competing with their current lineup of products.

Let’s not forget that the original iPhone and iPad were all announced in the beginning of the year. They were both category defining products and I’d suggest that a sub-8-inch iPad would have a similar impact on the rest of the industry (albeit on a slightly smaller scale). And, announcing the iPad Mini in the beginning of the year would allow Apple to move the traditional 10-inch iPad announcement into the WWDC timeframe. This would give them a nice January-March, June, and September release schedule for all of their major non-Mac products. This would also keep the newer, slightly riskier announcements further away from the holiday season in order for them to more easily ramp up manufacturing and gain market traction.

John Paczkowski has “several sources” indicating an October release date for the iPad Mini but I still believe that this announcement would be better suited at the beginning of the year. If they announce the iPad Mini in October then will they continue releasing traditional 10-inch iPads at an event in the spring? And would that also mean that we’ll just get new software and another Mac with a Retina display at WWDC?  It seems to me that the timing of the iPad Mini announcement will have a serious effect on what the release schedule of Apple’s products will look like in the following year.

Paczkowski has always had solid sources, and normally I wouldn’t doubt them. But at least from my perspective, 2013 sounds a lot more interesting if Apple waited another few months before unveiling the iPad Mini. At the very least, I think it would make for a more consistent stream of new products to keep consumers and the press interested — and we all know how Apple loves to dominate the news cycle.