Oct. 16 is the next big date on Apple watchers’ calendars in what is expected to be a new iPad unveiling.
The invitations are embossed with the line, “It’s been way too long,” and for AAPL investors, those words couldn’t be more true. The iPad line is Apple’s second biggest source of revenue, but it’s been under siege from competitors like Samsung (SSNLF), Google (GOOG) and Asus (ASUUY).
Apple iPad market share was near 30% at this time last year; according to IDC in the last quarter iPads had dropped to 26.9% of world tablet sales (with a 9.3% drop in volume on the year).
While a new Apple iPad line-up is a no-brainer, there could be other reveals this week. Here’s our best guess at what Apple will be taking the wraps off of on Thursday.
What to Expect at the Apple iPad Event: New iPad Air 2
If there’s one sure thing for this Apple iPad event, it’s a revised version of the flagship iPad Air — call it the iPad Air 2.
Amazon (AMZN) launched new Kindle Fire tablets in Sept. in the ramp-up to holiday sales, and the current iPad Air needs to improve if it’s going to remain competitive. Here’s what we’re expecting to see in the new iPad Air:
- Same 9.7-inch display size, but a thinner form factor
- Touch ID sensor
- A8 (or A8X) processor
- Gold case color option
What to Expect at the Apple iPad Event: New iPad Mini with Retina Display 2
Apple may have been reluctant to enter the small tablet game, but the iPad Mini, then iPad Mini with Retina Display (reviewed here) have been solid performers and let AAPL offer a high quality tablet at a lower price point.
Expect the Apple iPad Mini with Retina Display 2 to see similar upgrades as the iPad Air 2 (namely a fast CPU, Touch ID sensor and gold option).
What remains a mystery is Apple’s plan for the iPad Mini. It’s kept the original as a $299 budget tablet, but while the A5 CPU is technically capable of running iOS 8, it’s not the best experience. The iPad Mini could have its price slashed further, or it may get the axe with last year’s iPad Mini with Retina Display taking it place.
What to Expect at the Apple iPad Event: New iMac with Retina Display
Apple’s Mac PCs don’t get the same sort of attention that its iPhones and iPads do, but they are still big business — and Apple is posting solid PC sales even as Windows PC makers like Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) struggle.
In fact, IDC says Apple has cracked the top five global PC vendors list, as well as growing its third place U.S. PC sales.
To preserve that momentum, desktop Apple Mac models need desperately to be updated, especially the iMac and Mac Mini.
Since introducing “Retina Display” to the iPhone, iPad and MacBook Pro, Apple has been under pressure to offer an iMac all-in-one PC with a higher resolution display than the current — and decidedly not Retina — 2560 x 1440 pixel maximum.
According to MacRumors and other Apple watchers, Retina Display iMacs are definitely going to make an appearance on Thursday.
It may not make the stage, but expect the Apple Mac Mini to get at least a refresh too. With the growing threat of cheap Chromeboxes being pushed at educational, home and business users, Apple’s cheapest and smallest PC needs a boost to stay relevant.
What to Expect at the Apple iPad Event: OSX Yosemite and Apple Pay
The newest version of the Apple Mac operating system is expected to be released this fall, and we’re well into that timeframe.
It’s pretty much a lock that Apple will take at least some time away from new iPad demos on Thursday to talk about Yosemite and provide the release date.
It’s also possible that Apple Pay may get a mention.
The mobile payment system that leverages the Touch ID sensor in iPhones — and expected in new Apple iPads — isn’t live just yet. But MacRumors uncovered documents suggesting an Oct. 18 launch. If that’s the case, Apple will likely want to make an announcement to drum up excitement.
What to Expect at the Apple iPad Event: No Gold Retina MacBook Air
The iMac isn’t the only hole in the Apple Mac lineup when it comes to Retina displays. The MacBook Air remains stuck with a display that’s beginning to look ancient beside Ultrabook competitors.
A Retina Display MBA has been expected for months now and there was even speculation Apple might trick it out with a gold case.
However, that’s looking to be a no-go for Thursday. Re/Code and others are now convinced we’ll have to wait until next year.
Apple apparently doesn’t want a high resolution, ultra thin laptop distracting from the new iPad announcements…
What to Expect at the Apple iPad Event: New Apple TV?
One wildcard for this event is a new Apple TV.
Apple hasn’t refreshed the current black puck set-top streamer since a component update in January 2013 and it’s last real upgrade was in early 2102 — either way, the Apple TV qualifies for “It’s been way too long.”
Facing competition from the likes of Amazon Fire TV and Google’s Chromecast, the time is right for a new Apple TV.
Maybe even one that supports game controllers and unleashes iOS’s impressive mobile gaming ecosystem beyond the Apple iPad and iPhone and into the living room./
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.