The tech Web site Business Insider reports today that the next generation of the iconic tablet computer will be slightly lighter and smaller than the current iPad though not as small as the iPad Mini, according to MiniSuit, which is already making cases for the new iPad. The photo shows the new iPad case between the current iPad case on the right and the iPad Mini case on the left.
A source at MiniSuit, identified by Business Insider only as Steven W, said his company wouldn’t begin manufacturing cases without some good market intelligence that the new product, with the new dimensions, was actually coming to market. While the outside dimensions will be smaller, the iPad 5 screen will remain the same 9.7 inches diagonally as on the current model.
While the Business Insider story is about the overall dimensions of the iPad, the source didn’t have any other information about what the new iPad would include such as the processor, other features or specifications. But I’m sure the Apple rumor sites will disclose more in the weeks ahead.
I mentioned that the name iPad 5 is just a placeholder name until Apple makes it official. Apple tends to throw us a curve sometimes. The successor to the iPad 2, for instance, wasn’t named the iPad 3, but the “New iPad.” Apple has been similarly quirky with the iPhone naming protocol. The successor to the iPhone 3G, for instance, wasn’t the iPhone 4G but the iPhone 3GS. And the successor to the iPhone 4 was the iPhone 4S. Like I said, it’s just their way of messing with us.
The iPad 5, when it comes out, will still rule the tablet market, but may be less dominant than previous iPads. As I reported here Feb. 12, iPad’s share of the tablet market slipped to 43.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, from 51.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to IDC. Although iPad sales grew to 22.9 million units in 4Q12, so did sales of rivals Samsung and Asus, whose tablets run the Google Android operating system. The IDC report also included preliminary sales figures for the Microsoft Surface tablet, which was introduced in the fourth quarter.
Many Android tablets sell for less than iPads and even Apple has acknowledged that sales of the cheaper iPad Mini, with a starting price of $329, may have undercut sales of the bigger iPad, which starts at $499.
Apple can always be counted on to cause a stir when a new product like the iPad comes out, but what the market will be watching for is whether the iPad 5, or whatever they call it, will wow customers enough to shore up iPad’s lead in the tablet space.