“We are laser-focused and working hard on some amazing new products that we will introduce in the fall and across 2014.”
That’s Tim Cook at Apple’s earnings call in in July. We’re three days away from finding out whether or not amazing will happen.
Deep down, we’re all hoping that “amazing” means something more than an iPad 5 or a Retina Display iPad Mini. But what are the odds of that happening?
Let’s start at the top.
What we know: iPad 5, iPad Mini
Apple will absolutely announce an iPad 5, and all rumors and accounts indicate we’ll see a reduced bezel and a fingerprint scanner, as well as the introduction of Apple’s new A7 processor. The big question is whether or not we’ll we see any other new features.
Early in the week, rumors indicated that Apple might be planning a new Smart Cover. Given what appears to be a brand new form-factor for the newest iPad, this makes sense. The company’s newfound interest in iPhone cases makes me wonder if we won’t see some other kind of peripheral as well. I’ve lobbied for a keyboard before, but Apple is so devoted to no keyboard, it’s not likely. Unfortunately.
Apple will also almost certainly announce an iPad Mini, and all rumors point to the Mini having a Retina Display. It will be interesting to see what Apple prices this device at. A price of $329 doesn’t seem unreasonable – that’s a solid deal for a 7-inch device. At this point, if Apple doesn’t release the Retina Display iPad Mini, it’s going to be way behind some of its Android competitors.
Given Apple’s newfound love of colors, we will probably see some unique color SKUs for all three of the above products.
The good news for people who want an iPad, but don’t want to spend a fortune on a new one is that both the iPad 4 and the older iPad Mini will likely see substantial price drops when the new tablets are available. Based on last year’s precedent, this will likely happen the first full week of November.
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We’ll also likely an official announcement of a release date for Apple’s Mac-based OS X Mavericks, which promises a slew of new features, including a new iBooks app, map functionality, improved power consumption, better multi-monitor support, and more.
Will we see a MacBook Air with Retina Display? I’d like to think yes, but I’ve consistently over-estimated Apple’s propensity to deliver awesome. So, this time, I’m saying no. Not this year.
We will, however, see an official launch date for the new Mac Pro, which I have to say looks weirder the more I see it. Given Apple’s propensity to keep its launch dates fairly close to its announcements, this means a release in the near future.
Amazing? Not really
The curse of being Apple is that while all of the above announcements are impressive, none of the above quite feels like it qualifies as being amazing.
So, assuming that Mr. Cook has something up his sleeves, what could amazing possibly refer to? Here are the odds:
Apple television set: It would most certainly qualify as amazing, but I don’t think Apple’s ready with this one yet. I give it a 15% chance of occurring.
Apple TV refresh: This wouldn’t surprise me. A new processor, new functionality, and an increased set of content partners makes a lot of sense. I give this a 70% chance—it’s the most likely of the bunch. Particularly given the rumors floating around regarding Amazon listing the older devices as unavailable until October 23. What else might be in store here? For starters, a new Apple TV set-top might open up the system up to app developers (including games).
Apple iWatch: No way Apple pushes this forward yet. The company is going to wait to see how Samsung and Sony fare. 5% chance of this happening.
Some kind of new iPod: It’s not amazing, but it has been a while since Apple announced a new iPod. This is my outside candidate for amazing. I can see Apple doing something weird with these devices, like turning it into the iWatch. I’m putting the odds on this at 50%.
iPad phablet? At some point, Apple is going to have to take the plunge into this emerging category. It won’t happen this year, though. 10% chance of this happening.
Over-sized iPad: The more I think about 13-inch tablets, the more I believe this will be the next big category. It’s big enough to make a difference for both media consumption and productivity, and when combined with a stand of some kind, starts to resemble the tablet computer I’ve been pining for. The trick is that Apple would need to pair an even greater Retina Display with it. This said, the new A7 process would be more than up to the task, and the bigger form-factor would allow for a higher capacity battery. This is my outside choice for amazing – I’ll say 45% here.
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This week’s winner: Voracious readers
We’re finally seeing Netflix-style pricing applied to books. Earlier this week, TabTimes covered the release of Oyster, a digital book subscription service that offers a wide range of books for $10 per month.
This week, I also got my hands on eReatah, a service that offers a similar service, but priced on a 2-, 3-, or 4-book subscription basis (ranging from $15 to $29), with more of an emphasis on best-sellers and popular titles.
Depending on your reading preferences, both are worth checking out.
This week’s loser: Microsoft
It is worth noting Apple is staging its even on Tuesday, October 22nd, the same day Microsoft will release the Surface 2 tablet. Aggressive! And painful for Microsoft.