The fourth generation Apple iPad just hit retail shelves a few weeks ago, but the rumor mill is churning out a report that may hurt the holiday sales of the tablet.
According to Macotakara, an inside source claims that Apple may be releasing the fifth generation iPad in March 2013. The design of the new iPad is said to mirror that of the current iPad mini. It is expected to be 4mm shorter, 17mm narrower and 2mm thinner than the current 9.7-inch iPad. The source also mentions that the second generation iPad mini is in the pipeline, and will come with a Retina display (2,048 x 1,536 pixels).
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities reported in October that Apple may feel the pressure to launch a thinner, lighter iPad early next year in view of increasing competition from Microsoft's Surface tablets. Sources in China also alleged that display suppliers such as AU Optronics are preparing to mass produce 7.9-inch Retina displays by second half of 2013, which suggest that these display panels will be used in the next generation iPad mini.
It seems that Apple is indeed breaking away from its tradition of an annual product refresh cycle. The fourth generation iPad was launched just 7 months after the third generation iPad. It is also noteworthy to mention that Macotakara has a solid record of accurate information on Apple's products. It nailed the design, components and delivery schedule of the iPhone 5, and confirmed that the official name of the smaller iPad as the iPad mini.