As the new model iPhone excitement recedes, Apple revs up for October with a fresh batch of iPads, preceded by the usual host of leaks from China before the big day. Will they sell as well as the new smartphones? They'll have to, as Android tablets swamp Apple's market and revenue leadership.
The Bigger One Shrinks, the Small One Likely To Up the Rez
The shell of the new iPad has been waved around some Chinese suppliers, leading to the usual leaks, photos and video. While we used to be pretty skeptical of these early glimpses, due to Apple's so-called security, now it seems par for the course that we'll see all of the physical stuff long before the official reveal.
The new larger iPad is basically 1.5 cm narrower and a couple of millimeters shorter than the iPad 4 model, with a darker metal tone. That's likely due to a shrinking bezel as the bigger devices starts to resemble the form of the popular iPad mini. Given the massive success of the iPhone 5S, few would be surprised if it came packing the A7 64-bit processor of that phone to help nudge the whole ecosystem to the wider bandwidth and more power efficient processing on offer, see the video here.
That'll mean a whole new line of cases and covers. Meanwhile, while the iPad mini second-generation hasn't been seen yet, all hints point to it picking up a 7.9-inch retina display with a not quite so dramatic boost in processing power, bolted into the same design to make the big and mini models look like a happy family.
That's assuming Apple and partners have brought down the cost of retina-class displays to a suitable level, while improving battery performance to compensate. As we've seen Apple is ruthless on the profit margin, and if it can't be done profitably, it won't be done this generation.
iPads Ready To Fight the Android Army
These new tablets with their expected October release will march into a fierce battle with Android rival devices. Recent market shares and research show Apple's lead when it comes to tablets shrinking, and the latest numbers show Android now heading into an inexorable lead. Sure, so much of that is down to whitebox and budget tablets, and Apple is still the dominant single brand, but the rise in big-brand Android tablets continues with the latest being Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX models that are alluring comparable to an iPad.
However, the new iPad might not be as much of a hit as the recent iPhone, with no contract customers looking to upgrade, and iPad 3 and 4 model users likely quite happy with their user experience and device performance. Even so, expect them to be big sellers over the holiday season and likely to leave Microsoft's monstrously powerful Surface 2 models further in the dust.
One thing Apple can perhaps keep a secret until the big reveal is what's hiding in iOS 7.1, the iPad specific version of the new operating system. Apple's focus on apps, software and features could see a few surprises thrown in to utilize the tablet's more capacious battery and make the new devices seem a little more must-have.
Are you looking for a new tablet in the next few months? What features could sway you one way or the other? Personally an iPad 3 running iOS 7 seems pretty good still and the original Kindle Fire HD looks an utter bargain as a gift. Can anyone see a pressing need for the newer models, although they'll still happily sell millions.
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