A few years ago, the last thing anyone would expect to see is Apple resorting to the multiple-products-per-year-approach typical of major tech giants like Samsung, HTC, and Sony. That was during a time when smartphone consumers were still giddy about the novelties offered by the first few iPhones, and when breakthrough devices such as the iPad saw virtually little to no competitors within the industry.
Today, the state of the market could not have been more different, as evidenced by Android’s persistently rising stature–within the European and Chinese regions, in particular– and by the emergence of legitimate competitors such as Google and Samsung. As suggested in a recent, updated report from Digitimes, Apple CEO Tim Cook is now reportedly willing to adapt to new market rules by speeding the release of the next iPhone and iPad, dubbed the “iPhone 5S” and the “iPad 5,” respectively. The possible announcement date is reported to be “around the middle of 2013,” with some speculating May to be the earliest month of release. Coincidentally, mid-2013 also happens to be when Samsung’s Galaxy S4 is rumored to hit the market.
While the earlier than usual launch date will no doubt catch a lot of people off guard, in the big picture of things, the move is far from an unexpected one. Early on, reports from sources such as the Commercial Times indicated that trial-productions for a new iPhone model are already in progress, and that various component parts have been certified by the Cupertino Company. Taking into account how competitors such as Samsung are consistently posting impressive shipment numbers (with the Galaxy S3 apparently overpowering the iPhone 4S during 3Q12), and considering how the iPhone 5 has been poked fun at for lagging behind the “sizing” trend, it’s all but clear that Cook would eventually have to take action at some point. The CEO has already proven his willingness to change by letting go iOS head Scott Forestall and Apple retail manager John Browett. In the legal department, the company also made surprising, uncharacteristic efforts to settle patent disputes with HTC and Motorolla. With an obvious reform-minded mentality, Cook’s decision to break from the one-product-a-year routine becomes not a matter of whether it will happen, but when.
For now, no details have been spilled on what improvements we can expect from the rumored iPhone 5S or even the alleged iPad 5, for that matter. Considering the tight deadlines and complex production phase involved, the new iPhone changes might not go beyond system software tweaks and minor hardware improvements. For the iPad 5, on the other hand, it will be interesting to see if the hardware design will undergo any major overhauls.