Apple wants to stop tablet business slide with new iPads. But how?

  • Nisheeth Upadhyay, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 17, 2014 12:23 IST

After unveiling thinner, lighter and curvier iPhones at a flashy event last month, US tech giant Apple will likely introduce new iPads with the same philosophy on Thursday to shake up the fast-cooling tablet market.

Also read: Apple plans iPad event on October 16

An overcrowded segment of touch-screen devices will, however, ensure the California-based has a tough day out at its ‘Special Event’ (follow our live coverage at 10:15PM) which begins at 10am PDT (10:30pm IST).

Rumours are abound ever since Apple sent out invites for the event. "It’s been way too long," it insisted in the characteristically mysterious invites, fuelling speculations that apart from new tablets, it will also unveil new versions of its desktop PCs, the iMacs.

The US technology major is also expected to talk in detail about its operating system, OS X Yosemite, for the desktop computers at the event that is widely predicted to be a low-key affair on its campus in Cupertino, California.

Also read: Apple is now the fifth biggest PC maker

There is more to the tablet challenge for Apple than meets the eye, though. "I don't think they (Apple) will be able to turn it around, because the market is saturated," Michael Yoshikami, chief executive officer of Destination Wealth Management told Reuters. "The new devices are not going to be new enough to cause a new upgrade cycle," Michael added.

Also read: New iPads aim to boost Apple in premium tablet market

The smartphones are not helping either. Ever-larger smartphones such as the iPhone 6 Plus and Samsung Galaxy ‘phablets’ have eaten into tablets sales across the globe. Price, too, will hold the key if Apple wants to scale up its tablet offerings. "Apple has a limited addressable market, because Apple products, in general, are not for everybody," Gartner principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa told AFP. "I think Apple is going to keep on with the premium segment; I don't believe they are going to have a cheap iPad."

Tablet sales for Apple, which revolutionised the category with its iPad devices four years ago, have been falling for the past two quarters. Apple will give it the beans, regardless. The new iPads – widely speculated to be an upgrade of the iPad Air and a second-edition iPad mini with retina display — are likely to get the Touch ID fingerprint reader and near-field communication (NFC) chips.

Rumours also suggest a larger iPad for business use and design professionals could be unveiled. However, a 2014 launch doesn’t seem to be on the cards.

Apple is also set to launch Apple Pay at several US stores and will explain in detail how the mobile wallet feature -- unveiled at Apple’s iPhone and Watch event on September 9 -- works.

New life for Apple TV?

Apple TV, a ‘hobby’ product long ignored by the US company, may get a new lease of life with new features and wider usability. The company may apply its ‘idea of the year’ to the Apple TV, too -- a lighter, thinner body with a curvier design.

The Apple TV plays multimedia obtained through iTunes on television sets and also offers content from third-party channels. It also integrates AirPlay which allows iOS devices with iTunes to stream music on the TV. With some inspiration (read Google Chromecast features), Apple can really turn the Apple TV on its head.

(With inputs from Reuters and AFP)

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