Accelerated Development

As you wander around the web today you may read “rumours” about an iPad-themed Apple event on October 22. This is not a rumour. This date is fact.

What is a rumour – and a wildly intriguing one at this point – is what is going to be inside of the new iPad mini. Credible people inside and outside of Apple are saying that the new mini will have a retina display and the shiny new 64-bit A7 chip. Both of these would be Very Good Things … but they would also be exceedingly curious, since it would be a complete break from the standard rollout path of technology from Apple. More to the point, it would be a break from the rollout path that has allowed Apple to offer new technology and every one of their finished products at a lower price than any other manufacturer – year in and year out – for the last decade.

Until now, brand new tech has been first offered in the “pro” and/or debut version of a product. At that point the price is high (sometimes breathtakingly so) but no one else is offering it, so it’s is a non-issue. The next year, that tech – with the manufacturing costs reduced through the magic of Moore’s Law – trickles down into the middle-range products. And in the third year the tech, now being cranked out in staggering numbers and with startling efficiency, devolves down into the lowest tier of products.

It’s a good system. It keeps the technology bar high while keeping the public interested and eager, and makes it wickedly different for other companies to compete. If that template is being followed at this point, the new iPad mini should get a retina display and … that’s it. A processor upgrade would be slated for next year. So – if these rumours are true – the mini is going to skip and entire generation of development.

Is it possible? Yes. Is it probable? Very much so.

But it would also be hell of a shock. October 22 is going to be an interesting day. Click your calendars now.

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