Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) apparently has some kind of entirely new product in the pipeline, but at this point, it’s still unclear exactly what it is. Neil Hughes of Apple Insider reports that the company is working on a new 17-watt power supply for one of its products—and that the power supply isn’t for a new version of anything that’s currently on the market.
What could Apple be working on?
Apple Insider cites sources who are familiar with the new power supply’s design. Those sources said the nature of the parent product of that supply is still unknown, although at least one of the sources believes that the power supply is for some kind of portable product which would launch sometimes over the next 12 months.
The sources said the component is not meant as an upgrade to current Apple product lines. For example, the fifth-generation iPad, which uses a 12-watt adapter, is expected to ship with the same adapter as previous models.
Also the new 17-watt adapter is not for a device that’s going to be unveiled at next week’s media event, which was announced by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) on Tuesday. As previously expected, that event is expected to focus on the new iPhone models.
What’s in a watt?
Of course it’s important to put things into perspective when talking about something like a power supply. The current Apple TV set top box uses a 6-watt power supply that’s inside of the box. As already mentioned, the iPad uses a 12-watt adapter. The iPhone’s adapter is just 5 watts.
Past iPad models did come with a 10-watt USB wall adapter, but last fall Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) upgraded that adapter to the current 12-watt model, which charges the device more quickly. The 10-watt adapter was then discontinued.
Possibilities for Apple’s new product
One of the sources who spoke to Apple Insider said they believed that the new 17-watt power supplies were for an external adapter similar to the ones used by the iPhone and iPad. Currently the only products made by Apple which use external power adapters are iOS devices, iPods and MacBooks.
Hughes points to recent rumors that the company was experimenting with a 13-inch iPad as a possibility, although he notes that the trend in tablets is going smaller rather than larger right now. This would suggest that a bigger iPad is unlikely. However, he says 13 inches is the size of the most popular MacBook, and a bigger display would require a bigger charger. Insider John Gruber doesn’t expect Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to ever offer a touchscreen MacBook, although he does expect to see an iOS notebook, which could have a 13-inch display.
And then there are rumors about some sort of “unexpected television-related product,” which TechCrunch reported earlier this year that Apple could release as early as this fall. Hughes notes that it seems unlikely that Apple should ship a home theater product like this would have an external adapter, although it may be needed because the adapter would have to be more powerful than the 6-watt internal one used in the Apple TV.