Report: Apple begins iPhone 5S, iPad, Apple TV pre-production for early 2013

Apple's [AAPL] is up to something. This morning reports emanating from the much-maligned but sometimes accurate Digitimes claim the company is beginning trial production of the next-generation iPhone, called for the sake of it, the iPhone 5S.

“Facing low yield rates in the production of iPhone 5, Apple has accelerated the certification processes for related parts and components for the iPhone 5S,” Digitimes claims, citing the Chinese-language Commercial Times.

Digitimes also speculates Apple will introduce a new model iPad in Q2:

“While the speculated iPhone 5S is expected to enter volume production in the first quarter of 2013, Apple is also likely to release a new version of iPad a quarter later than the iPhone 5S, since the display resolution of its latest version of iPad has come out lower than expected, the paper added.”

And there’s more: Apple’s long-awaited Apple television device is also on track for introduction in the first half of next year the report claims.

Does this mean Apple’s been listening to critics demanding it innovate against its seemingly imitative Android competitors? Does this mean it intends raising the frequency of iPhone releases in order to stay near the head of the pack?

It’s possible. 

Digitimes reckons the iPhone 5S could enter volume production in the first quarter of 2013. However, I recall a seven month gap between initial claims of the iPhone 5 entering production and its eventual appearance, so I’m speculating a June/July introduction on strength of the title’s claims.

Keeping that iPhone 5 production line moving has been problematic for Foxconn, where Chairman Terry Gou said: “It’s not easy to make the iPhones. We are falling short of meeting the huge demand.”

It seems far too soon for fresh iPhone rumors to hit the street, for a start Apple has remained pretty focused on an annual release; secondly the iPhone 5 has only been available for two months. 

Conversely, it’s possible company management have decided to introduce new versions of the iPhone more frequently and perhaps striking back against the fragmented Android device market by diversifying its iDevice range.

All the same it seems highly improbable that Apple intends introducing an all-new iPhone within the next four months -- rumors like these tend to deflate sales of Apple’s current model.

The latter even makes it possible that those in competition with Apple may be attempting to seed the market with such rumors in an attempt to stifle Cupertino’s smartphone sales.

There is one other possibility: Apple may be on course to introduce a new breed of iPhone, not intended to compete with the classic model, but to widen the market with the release of a different kind of device.

There will be several substantive matters of interest in the next-generation iPhone:

  • What will iOS look like after a few months in the hands of Sir Jony Ive?
  • Will Apple use its own payments system or adopt industry-standard NFC?
  • How much further will the company go toward conjoining OS X and iOS?
  • What kind of performance will its processor teams conjure up?
  • Will Siri ever come out of beta?
  • Will Apple and Samsung ever find a way to peace? [NB: Given Samsung’s just raised the cost of iPhone processors by 20 percent that seems unlikely.]

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