Apple threw consumers and analysts a bit of a curveball yesterday by unveiling a surprise fourth-generation iPad complete with the new Lightning dock connector and a twice as fast A6X processor. It left many people pretty annoyed – particularly those who’d recently purchased an iPad 3. If you thought grabbing the fourth-gen iPad would keep you running the very top model for at least 10-12 months however, you might well be sadly mistaken.

After releasing two iPads in the space of seven months, it would be foolish of anybody to take Apple’s release brackets as assumed, and although the words of analysts have tended to be rather hit-and-miss, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities believes Apple may go thinner and lighter with the iPad 4 – possibly releasing a refresh early next year.

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The thought process behind Kuo’s supposition, is that Apple may cave to pressure from pressure from the Microsoft Surface tablet, which is considerably thinner and lighter than the Cupertino company’s offering. In a change to the usual Apple motif, the third-gen iPad emerged noticeably heavier than its predecessor in order for the battery to power the juice-guzzling Retina display, and although the fourth-gen is no heaver or thicker than the very first Retina model, it’s quite a bit weightier than the Microsoft offering.

The Surface isn’t the only tablet arriving to market, of course, but it brings a new kind of competition Apple has yet to face. Having fended off numerous Android tablets, the Surface is a new ecosystem entirely, and the hybrid effect of doubling up as an ultrabook-esque may also put the frighteners on Tim Cook’s company.

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Will the Surface be enough to coerce Apple into releasing yet another iPad so soon? It does seem unlikely, but then again, at the beginning of this year, so did the prospect of a smaller iPad.

Kuo expects Apple to implement "GF DITO" or GF2 technology into the new iPad, and along with a chipset better on power, he believes the iOS maker will be able to shave significant bulk on a device which really goes against the grain in terms of Apple’s continual scaling-down of products across the board.

Do you believe Apple will go thinner, sooner rather than later?

(via AppleInsider)

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