There are three announcements we’ve been waiting for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) to make in the near future:
- A March special event to launch an upgraded 12.9-inch iPad Pro and 9.7-inch iPad Air replacement.
- A third iPad –an all new 10.5-inch iPad Pro with design cues from the iPhone 8– seems ready to go in May or June.
- The move-in date for its new Apple Park “spaceship” campus.
A new report suggests the company is juggling the timelines and plans to hold an April Apple Event combining all three.
New iPads Are Overdue
Apple’s iPad lineup may not be doing the same business it once was, but it’s still due for a refresh.
The iPad Pro line aimed at prosumers is priced at a premium, helping to boost revenue for the division, but it competes against some tough adversaries, including Microsoft Corporation’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Surface Pro. Apple is expected to release a next generation version of 2015’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro to stay current.
An all-new iPad Pro that is also expected in the late spring. This one is a 10.5-inch form factor, but it seems likely to borrow from the design of the upcoming iPhone 8, with an edge-to-edge display and virtual Home button. Doing so gives AAPL a physically smaller iPad Pro, with a display larger than the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro, making it more useful for professionals.
The company is expected to also ship a replacement for the iPad Air 2, its full-sized consumer tablet that was released in 2014.
The new iPad Air and 12.9-inch iPad Pro were expected to be unveiled in March, but with the month half-over, an April Apple event seems more likely.
Such a move also jives with rumors back in January that AAPL might be experiencing some manufacturing challenges that could result in a later release.
New iPads Identified in the Wild
On Monday, 9to5 Mac broke the news that an analytics firm has detected the identifiers for new iPad models in app downloads in the Cupertino area. The model numbers show up as iPad 7,1; iPad 7,2; iPad 7,3 and iPad 7,4 — current iPad models show up in logs as iPad 6,x. 9to5 Mac notes that four new identifiers don’t necessarily mean four new models, as an iPad equipped with LTE has different numbers than the same version in a Wi-Fi-only option.
The new models first showed up last September, but the frequency accelerated rapidly in January and February, indicating the new iPads are getting close to being launch-ready.
Apple Park Ready for Its Grand Opening
Apple Park is AAPL’s massive new headquarters, nicknamed the “spaceship campus” because of its round, futuristic design.
Under construction since 2013, the massive building is 2/3 the size of the pentagon, packed with the latest green technology (including 17 megawatts of rooftop solar power generating capacity), features the world’s largest curved glass panels and came with a $5 billion price tag.
One of the features of Apple Park is the new Steve Jobs Theater — the site AAPL plans to use for new product launches.
AAPL has already announced 12,000 employees will begin moving into Apple Park next month, so an April Apple Event of some sort to celebrate the opening of the new headquarters was already a given.
New iPads and Apple Park to Converge for a Big April Apple Event?
Putting all the pieces together will take some work on AAPL’s part. That new 10.5-inch iPad Pro in particular could be problematic (it wasn’t expected this early), but Apple could show it off and announce availability closer to summer. However, the stars appear to be aligning for what Digitimes is reporting will be an April Apple event.
Citing sources from within Apple’s supply chain, Digitimes says Apple will show off its new iPads at a combined event that also inaugurates the new Apple HQ.
2017 is shaping up to be a massive year for Apple — one that will culminate with the 10th anniversary iPhone 8 in September.
It’s fitting if the company kicks things off with the opening of its new headquarters, and the first new product launch at the Steve Jobs Theater. Expect the April Apple event to happen, and to be a big deal.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.