What do iPhone 5 and iPad 3 rumors mean for business users?

Erik Eckel considers rumors of both new iPads and iPhones being released this fall. Should the rumors affect business users who are planning new purchases? Here's his take.

Do any other rumors generate as much buzz as Apple's? If so, I'm at a loss to name a company that captures more newsprint based solely on what it might do.

But there's a reason for all that energy. Apple products permeate contemporary culture and change the way businesses connect, communicate, collaborate and operate. You don't exceed the combined market capitalization of Microsoft and Intel by playing it safe. You must take dangerous chances and risk delicate innovation. And Apple's done so successfully on repeated occasions. That's why Apple rumors generate so much interest; previous product announcements have heralded great change.

I believe that's why Apple's stock dipped during June's World Wide Developer's Conference Keynote. Frankly, the announcements from WWDC just weren't what the market sought. A built-in app store with Mac OS X Lion is great. A Notifications Center is helpful, as are iOS 5 mail improvements and the new iCloud sync services. But the world wants a new iPhone. It just may get a new iPad, too.

Bigger, better, faster

According to CNET News, DigiTimes is stirring the pot. The rumors are well-publicized. Bigger screens, faster processors, improved resolution. The iPhone 5 wish list goes on. There's even talk that the new iPad 3 will feature a Retina Display.

Slipped timelines?

Supposedly, Apple suppliers are already ramping up production of the iPhone 5 and iPad 3. While that's possible, I'm skeptical. Clearly WWDC, which included an appearance by the iconic Steve Jobs, was the showcase tailor-made for introducing the two new devices. But the event came and went with no news of new hardware.

If Apple releases the new iPhone and third-generation iPad this fall, one could conclude the company missed its internal production deadlines. Certainly, June's WWDC was the ideal venue for these releases.

What the rumors mean for business users

Regardless, I won't be surprised if Apple releases a new iPhone in Q4. Investors may well punish the company if it doesn't. More than a year has passed since the iPhone 4 debuted.

An iPhone 5 debut shouldn't prove disruptive for business users, as a Q4 introduction would likely align with the release of iOS 5. Business users locked in to iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS contracts should expect to be able to download and install the iOS 5 upgrade. Thus, it's unlikely any iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4 users will have to forego any significant new features that would require a new handset.

The iPad 3 rumor strikes me as the most surprising. The iPad 2 was just released in March. Leaving a successful second-generation product on the market for just six months is almost unprecedented for Apple. Thus, I'd suspect any improvements in the iPad 3 would prove minor. It's possible you'll see an improved display, but I'm skeptical. Rumors also abound that a new iPad 3 would be thinner and lighter. But such improvements seemingly require a redesign of the chassis, a prospect I find unlikely.

Instead, a new iPad might feature the improved display capable of supporting higher resolutions. Conceivably Apple can cram a higher-resolution display into the same form factor modeled for the second-generation chassis. That certainly impacts business users, who frequently use the popular tablet platform to remotely connect to other systems, compose documents and spreadsheets, and send and receive email. The ability to fit more information, more clearly, on screen is compelling.

However, I don't feel any of the discussed rumors warrant delaying a new iPhone or iPad purchase. Business users in need of the devices now should proceed without much anxiety. Waiting until the fall for a new iPhone or iPad seems silly. That said, with Apple, you never know just what's around the corner. That's what makes the company's new product announcements so intriguing.

By Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...