Apple's Oct. 22 Invites Kick Rumor Mill Into High Gear
Oct 16, 2013 5:00 AM PT
Apple on Tuesday sent out invitations to an undisclosed event to be held Oct. 22 in San Francisco, fueling fresh speculation about the company's planned product launches.
It's widely expected that Apple will unveil new versions of the iPad and iPad mini, among other things.
"The most solid rumors are that we'll see a 9.7-inch fifth-generation iPad," Jeff Orr, a senior practice director at ABI Research, told MacNewsWorld.
It's generally agreed that the iPad lost market share in Q2.
"It was inevitable that they would lose share from their lofty perch," commented Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD Group. "However, I would contend that most of the business [Apple] has lost is not business it ever really wanted to win."
Apple did not respond to our request for further details.
What We Might Expect
Apple is expected to unveil an iPad mini with a Retina screen; another version of this small tablet with a polycarbonate case similar to the one used in the faltering iPhone 5C; a slimmer iPad with a narrower bezel; and 8 MP rear cameras in both the iPad and iPad mini, up from the current 5 MP version.
There is also speculation that Apple might launch a new Apple TV, which has not been updated for more than a year, and unveil the iWatch.
New MacBook Pros with Retina screens and Mac OS X Mavericks, Apple's next-generation desktop OS, might also make their appearance.
Whither the iPad?
"It seems pretty solid from the supply chain that [the new iPad] will have a narrow bezel and, from what I've seen from accessories manufacturers, it seems the screen is narrower at the edges," ABI's Orr said.
The iPad 5 will probably have the A7 processor, Orr suggested.
A fingerprint sensor is also highly likely because "architecturally, the iPad will follow the iPhone 5," Orr argued.
Mini-Me May Make It
An iPad mini with a Retina display will probably be in the cards for the Oct. 22 event, but "the rumor is that Apple is getting a bit behind on resolutions," Orr stated.
"As of Q2, the iPad mini has been the majority of iPad shipments, and the changes Apple make on it will impact their bottom line more than any iterations on the regular iPad," Orr averred.
However, the iPad mini will get a higher-resolution screen "only if they can make enough to satisfy demand," NPD's Baker told MacNewsWorld. "There have been some questions about their ability to build enough."
Challenges to Cupertino
Apple still dominates the market for tablets larger than 8 inches, and it doesn't compete with low-cost Android tablets smaller than 8 inches, which have been growing at a triple-digit rate throughout 2013, Baker said.
Apple's business "in the markets they compete in -- more premium-priced products -- is actually quite good," Baker continued.
As the tablet market separates into markets for larger and for smaller tablets, two questions need to be answered, Baker suggested.
One is whether Apple can continue to be competitive on features and apps in the small-tablet market, and the other is how fast the standard iPad can evolve into a hybrid productivity and consumption device to beat competing Windows, Chrome and Android offerings.
"I would like to see [Apple] take a stand with enterprise or non-consumer audiences," ABI's Orr said. "iOS 7 has broken a number of enterprise-designed applications and VPN support."
By remaining quiet on these issues, Apple is sending a negative message to business audiences, Orr pointed out.
The company gives a tip of the hat to the enterprise market when it states in financial calls that the iPad's in test or deployment with a majority of Fortune 500 organizations, but "that's a meaningless statement,' Orr contended -- "I'm sure the people who make water coolers can say the same thing."