Apple Just Set Itself Up For A Big Spring Product Launch: Finally, A TV?

What does Apple's new iPad tell us about Apple's future new product launch plans? Maybe a little.

Over the past few years years, Apple has scheduled its gadget launches in fairly regular, annual cycles. That is: New iPad in the spring, new OS X in the summer, new iPhone and iOS in the summer or fall, new iPods in the fall. (New Macs whenever.)

But with today's big iPad launch — including the iPad mini and a new, fourth-generation iPad — Apple leaves a big question mark for next spring: What's it going to announce between January and June?

Will Apple move the iPad to a six-month update cycle, unveiling new iPads annually in both the spring and fall?

Probably not — an annual update still seems frequent enough. People aren't likely to buy new iPads more often than every couple of years, and component breakthroughs aren't always going to happen every six months. Plus, it's not like competitors are breaking through the market with regular updates.

But it does make sense to move Apple's iPad updates to the fall, in time for the big holiday shopping season. With rivals like Amazon and Google (and soon Microsoft) finally starting to catch up in the tablet market, it no longer makes sense for Apple to sell half-year-old tablets as Christmas presents.

So what will Apple do in the Spring? Something, right? Going six months before another launch seems unlikely.

It's probably not going to be another iPhone or iPod. This really sounds like an opportunity for something new.

One possibility: Finally, an Apple television set. Spring isn't necessarily the ideal time to start selling a TV — right after Christmas and the Super Bowl — but slowly rolling out a TV might be a decent idea, anyway.

Or something else? Perhaps a new fitness device in time for warm weather? Or an entirely new gadget that we haven't even considered yet?

Either way, there's now room for something.

Photo: Grey Clayman