MacRumors’ Richard Padilla reports that Apple will most likely release an upgraded iPad Air this year and hold off releasing a 12.9-inch “iPad Pro” and a newer iPad mini until early 2015, according to usually reliable parser of Apple unreleased product intelligence, KGI Securities Ming-Chi Kuo, in a new research note.
Mr. Kuo is cited saying a new iPad Air with an A8 processor and Touch ID fingerprint sensor will be the only new tablet Apple introduces this year, as the company focuses its R&D resources from the Retina iPad Mini towards development of the 12.9-inch iPad, which he projects will debut early next year or at the earliest late this year with limited supply.
The report notes that iPad mini with Retina display sales have been a disappointment for Apple, and that the higher-margin iPad Air the hot ticket iPad modeli n 4Q13, so Apple will be less-inclined to develop new iPad mini models. That dynamic doesn’t surprise me, since in my estimation the mini’s only advantages over the full-sized iPad have been the obvious one of size, and its lower price, which with the Retina model is only $100 lower. And the size distinction is a lot less with the iPad Air filling the full-size slot, thereby opening up market positioning for a larger, more enterprise oriented (and more profitable per unit) iPad Pro.
Padilla also cites Mr. Kuo’s research note maintaining that the 12.9-inch iPad will act as a driver in allowing developers to create more interactive apps for a bigger screen, but since Apple has made iWatch development it’s priority for this year, toward the release of its smartwatch later in 2014, he predicts that Apple will restart mass production of the iPad 4 in Q1 2014 as a larger iPad placeholder as iPad 2 production is finally phased out after a three-year run, and that iPad shipments will decline from 34 million units in the 1st half of 2013 to below 30 million units in the first half of 2014.
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