The highly anticipated release of iOS 4.x for iPad has been scheduled for November, as Stevy-baby announced yesterday. Odd, especially since an early fall release was promised earlier this year. Contacts inside the fruitfactory assured me last month that a 4.1 release was ready to be distributed right away so that a September release was imminent. Yet Jobs delayed it. Why? I can think of two reasons.

1. Social Networking

Despite being something of a first-mover in the cloud business with their to MobileMe re branded DotMac thingy, Apple missed out completely on social networking. Well “completely” doesn’t do Apple enough justice, since they actually were the first big advertiser on Facebook and for years Apple more or less was the only company paying Facebook a fair of money (50+K each month) for services rendered. That’s probably why early rumors of Facebook being integrated in iOS4 popped up. So far this hasn’t materialized though. Yesterday the turtleneck dude announced an integration of the small (but free) PING social network in iTunes. Did Facebook loose that deal or is Apple integrating it in iOS4.2 for iPad? Would make a lot of sense, since iPad really is the best social networking device for usage in bed and on the couch. To be fair, I don’t think it’s THE reason why Apple would push back the release of that highly anticipated piece of software.

2. Android

For years Apple operated with more or less fixed launch dates for new stuff. There was January for new business-computers, movie stuff and software, June for school related gear (MacBooks, etc), followed by the ‘back to school’ announcements in July, and September for holiday focused products like the iPod and iTunes. New releases were on sale the moment God Jobs announced them. But over the past two years this procedure has shifted. More and more products are announced to be released ‘later’. Might have something to do with the fact that Apple can’t keep new products a secret anymore, but will probably also have a marketing purpose: twice the exposure, not to mention that nasty period of waiting with all kinds of juicy gossip floating around. During the launches of both iPhone and iPad Apple has proven to be able to dominate the tech and hip media all the way from announcement to launch party. Many months of free publicity. Priceless!

But then came Google with their really-not-so-open Android. For two years development of devices was limited, but now they start to flood the market. New released Android OS versions range from very outdated to modern and that will certainly hammer the brand image in the long run, but for now Apple had to think of something to counter all that ‘new release’ publicity. Especially towards those financially attractive holidays in December. A November release of iPad might do the trick.

And it makes sense. A few Android pushers are said to be releasing small tablets with Android OS 2.x, a version of the OS which is clearly not optimized for touch and will therefor not have the usability that makes the iPad shine. Be prepared to expect lots of head to head comparisons between those ill fated Android devices and the iPad. Add some carefully planned Apple leaks and a formal announcement with something ‘exciting’ in the OS somewhere in November and Apple for sure will rule the front pages of blogs, websites and magazines during those critical past few months. It will make for a lovely financial result, but also gives the fruitpusher enough juice into 2011. New releases of updated hardware (watch those announcements in January, release in April) and bad Android press because of that crippled experience will help Apple to stay tablet market leader for the next 2 or 3 years.

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