Based on various reports, and a lack of leaks, it does not look promising that Apple will release a third-generation iPad Air this year. It may be hard to believe that the company will forego its flagship 9-inch iPad in favor of a larger 12-inch model, but that's where all signs are pointing. The rumor mill and some analysts believe that Apple will only release a revamped iPad mini 4 and 12-inch iPad Pro in 2015 due to slumping tablet sales.
It is no secret that worldwide tablet sales are on a slide and that the iPad is not immune. Apple recently announced a 17.9% year-over-year decline in iPad sales and CEO Tim Cook has had to defend the tablet twice after seperate earning calls. This doesn't mean the iPad is selling poorly, Apple still sold 10.9 million units in Q2 of 2015, but it does show that interest in tablets overall has slown down.
It has also been a slow year for next-generation leaks and rumors mostly thanks to the release of the Apple Watch. Normally Apple blogs and fans have nothing better to do than speculate about the next iPhone and iPad each year, but the Apple Watch gave fanatics a new product to obsess over which slowed the normal tide of next-generation rumors. While there have been a lot of leaks about the rumored iPhone 6s, there have been substantially less about the iPad mini 4 and almost nothing has been revealed about a third-generation iPad Air. However, there has been a lot of buzz about the iPad Pro, and this is what is leading most people to believe that Apple will not refresh its 9-inch lineup this year and will instead launch a 12-inch tablet aimed at the education and business markets.
Earlier this month Taiwan's DigiTimes reported that "Apple has turned conservative about its tablet product line and is not planning to release a next-generation model to replace the existing iPad Air tablet." The supply chain publication also noted that "Apple is ready to release its fourth-generation iPad mini and the related supply chain is already preparing the device's components."
Another Taiwanese publication Economic Daily News published a simular report in July but added that the iPad mini 4 will be the last 7-inch tablet released by Apple.
Trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo made no mention of a third-generation iPad Air in a research note he sent out in July. Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will only release the iPad Pro, and a fourth-generation iPad mini that will resemble a "mini version of the iPad Air." His note falls in line with other reports which suggest that the iPad mini 4 will feature a thinner form factor like the current iPad Air model.
Nobody knows for sure what products Apple plans to launch this year, but anyone who has followed the company knows they are not good at keeping things secret. Fans normally know everything there is to know about Apple's next-generation devices before they're officially unveiled, however, this year we seem to know nothing about the iPad Air 3. This is what makes the rumors that there will be no iPad Air 3 seem somewhat credible. It also easy to believe the DigiTimes' report that Apple is being conservative when it comes to its iPad lineup. Why release a new iPad every year when less people are buying new tablets. Maybe Apple has set out to prove that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.