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Tim Cook suggests Apple may not release new products before autumn

Apple executives rarely provide details about upcoming product launches during earnings call, but Apple chief Tim Cook has suggested that we might not see any new gadgets from the company until the autumn.

During a first quarter earnings call with analysts, Cook said that Apple is working on "amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can't wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014."

That prompted a double take among the Apple watchers on Twitter. "Did Tim Cook just say we won't get new products until the fall?" many tweeted. When asked to elaborate during the Q&A, Cook would only say "I don't want to be more specific, but I'm just saying we've got some really great stuff coming in the fall and across all of 2014."

That contradicts recent analyst reports suggesting that Apple would unveil a new iPhone (and low-cost smartphone) in June - possibly at its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) - and release it in July. Those analysts argued that Apple needs to compete against rivals like Samsung with a more frequent release schedule, and perhaps a phablet.

Cook admitted that Samsung is Apple's biggest competitor. "But we feel that we have the best products by far and we are continuing to invest in innovative products," he said.

Apple is "really, really confident about our product pipeline in both hardware, software, and also services," he continued. "We have the best eco-system by far. We're just going to keep augmenting it and making it better and better."

Since 2007, Apple has stuck to a once-a-year release schedule for the iPhone. For the past two years, the new iPhone has been unveiled in the autumn ahead of the holiday season. If Apple is sticking to that, we probably won't see a new iPhone until at least September.

But will Apple really not release anything new until September? What about WWDC? Last year, the developers conference was largely focused on providing a sneak peek at iOS 6 and Mountain Lion, though it did release a 15in Retina display MacBook.

Apple did shake things up in autumn 2012, though, with the October launch of the iPad mini and the fourth-generation iPad. There was also iTunes 11, new iMacs, and a 13in Retina display MacBook. That, Cook said today, was an "unprecedented" product ramp up, so perhaps Apple is still catching its breath, so to speak.