You might as well mark your calendar. Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) Oct. 22 iPad-focused media event is all but confirmed. Not only is All Things D claiming that's the date, but The Loop's always accurate Jim Dalrymple has even given his "Yep" confirmation. Expect press invitations to go out this week, in line with Apple's typical notice about a week ahead of the event.
But what exactly can we expect from the event? Here's your latest rumor roundup on Apple's upcoming iPads.
Apple is expected to refresh both its full-sized iPad and its iPad Mini.
The rumor mill suggests the iPad 5 will take on its smaller counterpart's thinner and sleeker form-factor design, maintaining the 9.7-inch Retina display while adopting the small bezels found in the iPad Mini. The iPad 5 will be significantly faster than the iPad 4 with an altered A7, built for tablet use and increased RAM, referred to as the A7X. Additionally, the iPad 5 (along with the iPad Mini 2) is rumored to launch in a third, space-gray color (like the iPhone 5s).
Thinner, smaller, lighter, faster -- it's a significant update.
iPad Mini 2
Though the iPad Mini will allegedly keep the same form factor, its new display and much-improved processor will dramatically boost this tablets performance. While the original iPad Mini utilized the iPad 2's A5, the iPad Mini 2 is rumored to also use Apple's new A7X -- a huge jump in processing power. The display will jump from a 1024-by-768 resolution IPS panel to the Retina display.
Can Apple's tablet segment grow again?
Apple's iPad unit sales were down 14.2% in its third quarter from the year-ago quarter. This is definitely an issue for shareholders, since iPad revenue accounts for a meaningful 18% of the company's total revenue. Even more, Apple seems to be missing out on the tablet market's growth. In general, the market is projected to grow nicely over the next several years. IDC projects 2017 tablet shipments to be 71% higher than 2013's. In fact, IDC estimates that tablet shipments will top total PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2013 and annually from the point on.
Investors hope Apple's refreshed tablet will help the company capture some of this growth. Given the onslaught of cheaper, smaller tablets -- the refreshed iPad Mini 2 with a Retina display will give Apple a much stronger product to compete in the ultra-competitive lower price range of 7-inch tablets. And the new form factor on the refreshed iPad 5 will certainly spark some interest at the higher price points, too.
With such a major update to the product line, it's reasonable for investors to expect Apple to once again see year-over-year revenue gains in its tablet segment in Apple's fiscal 2014.
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