Oct. 23 is circled on my calendar as Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iPad Mini day. A smaller version of the dominant tablet will certainly be the main course, but it likely won't be all the company unveils that day.
Back to the Mac
There are up to three Mac families that could potentially see upgrades or unveilings: Mac Mini, iMac, and MacBook Pro. The Mac Mini was updated last summer and is in need of beefed-up internals, including Intel's (Nasdaq: INTC ) newest Ivy Bridge chips.
The same goes for the iMac, Apple's popular all-in-one desktop. However, we may be looking at a dramatic redesign for the iMac, starting with a thinner body. The display is expected to be laminated to the front cover glass to improve quality and facilitate a thinner design. The company is not expected to incorporate high-resolution Retina displays at this time because they would be too challenging to produce in volume. Even the laminated display process that's expected has low yields, which could result in supply constraints.
However, the MacBook Pro family is expected to see the addition of a 13-inch model sporting a Retina display. If it follows in the footsteps of its 15-inch brethren that was launched this summer, it should also lose some weight and feature a slimmer profile. Like the current 13-inch MacBook Pros, the new one isn't expected to have a discrete GPU and instead will rely on Intel's integrated graphics.
NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) retook its Mac spot from Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD ) with its Kepler chips this summer, which investors can bank on spreading throughout Apple's lineup wherever applicable. That's also true of Intel's Ivy Bridge chips, which should make their way into all Macs soon enough.
This year has been sluggish for Mac updates, in part due to component delays that have pushed back planned product launches and bunched them together in a year-end crunch. The important thing for investors to acknowledge is that despite the relative unimportance of Macs now (15% of trailing-12-month sales) relative to the iPhone and iPad (71% of trailing-12-month sales combined), Apple continues to focus on Mac hardware innovation.
That's what I call solving the Innovator's Dilemma.
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