August 31, 2012

Instapaper Stats May Have Outted New iPad “Mini”

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

Developers are smart people. Really smart people. In fact, it´s likely the only people who don´t believe developers are smart people are other developers. Therefore, when these developers pore over their logs to see how many of what device is running or what kind of device is pinging their servers, they´re sometimes able to get a sneak peak into new hardware. After all, as we´ve discussed time and time again companies develop and use prototypes before a product is released as a form of internal testing.

Apple, just like every other company, also performs internal testing on upcoming devices. They use them just as anyone else would, running apps, taking them throughout the day, (security clearance pending, of course) and generally putting them through their paces.

So, when popular iOS developer Marco Arment (creator of outstanding read later service Instapaper and host of the 5 by 5 podcast, “Build and Analyze”) took a look at his daily stats yesterday, he noticed something rather peculiar“¦ possible proof of that new iPad “Mini.”

“I saw two curious entries in Instapaper´s device stats today: one iPad2,5 and one iPad2,6. (There were also a few iPhone5,1 devices, but that´s not a surprise – that´s almost certainly next month´s new GSM iPhone.1) These device models, as reported by the OS, could be faked by a jailbreaker with enough free time. But I´ve never had a device show up there that didn´t end up being a real, about-to-be-released Apple device.”

Each Apple device is given a name in the system, like the aforementioned iPad2,5 and iPhone5,1. The iPad 2 is given three different names, iPad2,1, iPad2,2, and iPad2,3, for the Wi-Fi, GSM and CDMA models, respectively. As you may remember, Apple also added the iPad2,4 a few months ago when they quietly switched the way their processors were made to extend battery life and reduce the cost of making these internal components.

With this in mind, Marco suggests that these new iPad2,5 and iPad2,6 names could be nothing more than new iPad 2s with the new die. While this is a possibility, Marco says this would be a rather strange move on Apple´s part to continue selling these older devices, especially if they´re planning on refreshing the iPad on its current annual March/April cycle.

Instead, Marco suggests the rumored, upcoming iPad “Mini” could be little more than a smaller iPad 2, an Apple tablet with an A5 chip (same as the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S) with 512MB of RAM and enough power to drive a smaller, non-Retina Display.

“It´s a textbook Tim Cook supply-chain move: selling the last generation´s hardware at a lower price point to expand marketshare,” says Marco, who admits that he´s taking plenty of speculative liberties in this post.

A tablet such as this, says Marco, would be a brilliant move on Apple´s part. It would be a way for the company who normally sells products in the upper-end of the price spectrum, to build a great device with their new, cheaper techniques. Using familiar parts from older devices, (chips from the iPad 2, screens from the iPhone 3GS, and a supposed low power LTE chip) Apple can crank these tablets out cheaply and efficiently. And, if they meet or go below the $249 price point, it´s likely these tablets could further seal the iPad´s dominance in the tablet market.

Says Marco, “This is going to be an interesting two months.”