One of the major knocks against Apple in recent years has been the product update cycle, particularly the iPhone and iPad. That update cycle has been around a few years and gives competitors, which manufacture a larger line of products, additional opportunities to leapfrog Apple’s updates.
More recently the iPad 3 was updated to an iPad 4 just over six months after the former was launched. This happened when Apple introduced the iPad mini last year. Since then there’s been plenty of speculation and expectation that Apple will refresh products on an every-six-month schedule instead of annually.
Can we handle an Apple that introduces new products every six months? After all, Samsung does it, but not always an update of the same product. That annual recycle schedule even hurts Apple’s sales as customers begin waiting for the next version rather than buying the version available now.
There’s good and bad about a six month refresh. The bad? A new product becomes an old product in just a few months after purchase. The good, Apple keeps pace with competition, and a new product is never more than just a few months away.
On the manufacturing and development side, Apple seems to be moving in that direction already. Many tech pundits predict a new iPad in the spring, especially a Retina-like iPad mini. Unfortunately, the six month cycle doesn’t seem to spill over into the Mac line. It’s been years since the Mac Pro was updated, and the Mac mini was refreshed after a couple of years with the previous configuration.
Frankly, and despite the sad feeling that accompanies a purchase just a week or so before a new version comes out, I look forward to two things from Apple. A more frequent update schedule for all products; six to nine months is probably reasonable. And, a broader product line, especially with the iPhone which does need a lower priced version, a basic iPhone, and a larger screen version.
Time will tell as to whether Apple will adopt a more frequent update policy. There is a limit to how many new Apple products devout and loyal customers can buy each year, but can you name another product that has such a long tradition of hand-me-downs instead of throwaways?