While a larger iPad Pro and a thinner, more powerful iPad mini are likely in the cards for this fall, Apple’s flagship 9.7-inch tablet sounds like it will be left out of this year’s update cycle. In a new report today, hit-or-miss Taiwanese technology trade website Digitimes says that Apple is not preparing a third-generation iPad Air for this fall. This follows up on a report from earlier this year that claimed that such a tablet would not debut until 2016.

So, after updating the 9.7-inch iPad once annually (or twice in 2012) since its debut in early 2010, why would Apple choose to hold off on updating the device in 2015? Here are a few speculative reasons:

  • After releasing the iPad Air in 2013 and then redesigning its body and internals only a year later, in 2014, perhaps Apple’s iPad team decided to take a step back from the Air line and focus attention on the iPad mini, which only received a small update last year.
  • This prior point could also apply to the upcoming iPad Pro launch, which is likely taking many resources from Apple’s engineering departments.
  • What would an iPad Air 3 update have? Natural speculation points to a Force Touch display and perhaps stylus support. With the iPad Pro set to feature both of those additions as a new product line for Apple, the company would likely want the 12.9-inch model to debut the improvements before the existing Air line.
  • From a marketing and sales perspective, perhaps Apple wants to give the new iPad mini and iPad Pro the most stage time and spotlight in the market place. With the iPad Air 2 already including a thinner design than the current iPad mini and an A8X processor that fully supports iOS 9’s new split-view features, Apple could hold off on updating the device from a technology standpoint.

Out of character, it appears that Apple is planning to introduce a new iPad at its September 9th event alongside the new iPhones and Apple TV. Over the past few years, Apple has held September events to discuss the iPhone and October events focused around the iPad. If Apple were to introduce a new iPad mini this fall (and no new Air), debuting the sole device alongside the new iPhones and new Apple TV would not take up too much time from the keynote. Apple could then introduce the more important iPad Pro later in the fall, perhaps during the typical October iPad timeframe.

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