Apple's (AAPL 0.68%) Sept. 9 event was huge. The Cupertino tech giant unveiled two new smartphones, two new tablets, and a radically redesigned Apple TV. It didn't update the Apple Watch, but it did unveil new color options and new bands.
Yet there were a number of major products missing from the stage.
The iPad Air 2 remains Apple's flagship tablet
Apple unveiled the iPad Pro on Sept. 9. The Pro is the largest and most powerful iPad yet, with a massive, 12.9-inch display and supercharged A9X chip. It's also quite expensive, starting at $799. When equipped with a cellular antenna, Apple's custom keyboard, and stylus, the iPad Pro can retail for nearly $1,350 -- more than the Macbook Air. It could be popular with business users, but its high price tag should limit demand.
Most consumers looking for an iPad are likely to stick with the iPad Air or the iPad Mini. Apple did unveil a new Mini (the iPad Mini 4), but not an iPad Air. For consumers who want a 9.7-inch iPad, last year's iPad Air 2 remains the best choice.
It's a curious omission, considering that Apple has released a new 9.7-inch iPad at least once per year since 2010 (in 2012, it released two). At the same time, Apple's iPad business has been in decline for six consecutive quarters, and neglecting to release a new model with new technology gives owners even less of a reason to upgrade.
No new 4K Mac
Apple devoted a lot of time to the Mac at its March event earlier this year, launching the new MacBook and updating its existing MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. It's not surprising, then, that Apple neglected its laptop line at its September event, but many had expected the company to refresh its 21.5-inch iMac. Apple's new OS X operating system, Yosemite, includes support for a 4K display, but there's currently no 4K Mac. With Apple using a 5K display for its 27-inch iMac, 4K seems like the logical choice for the 21.5-inch variant.
The 21.5-inch iMac doesn't drive Apple's business, but the Mac is once again Apple's second-largest segment, and is increasingly popular among PC users.
No new AirPort
Apple hasn't updated its wireless routers since 2013. The AirPort Express and AirPort Extreme were class-leading when they debuted over two years ago, but Apple's competitors have passed it. Google's new OnHub retails for the same price as Apple's AirPort Extreme ($199), but offers greater performance. Routers don't drive Apple's bottom line, but they could play a key role in the larger battle for control of the smart home ecosystem. In addition to offering improved wireless technology, the OnHub supports Google's smart home standards, Google Brillo and Google Weave. To keep pace, Apple may need to launch new networking gear.
Nothing new from Beats
Apple has owned Beats for over a year, but hasn't used any of its press events to spotlight new Beats products. Headphones may seem insignificant, but in the past, Apple has used its press events to draw particular attention to them. In 2012, for example, it unveiled its new EarPods alongside the iPhone 5. Apple's once-iconic white earbuds have lost their cachet in recent years (replaced, to some extent, by Beats headphones), but Apple's continued interest in digital music ensures that audio equipment will remain important to the company.