Apple to launch refreshed iPad Air in 2014, but no new iPad Mini or 12.9-inch iPad Pro

By Alexandra Burlacu | Feb 16, 2014 10:19 AM EST

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Apple may be launching a refreshed iPad Air in 2014, but no 12.9-inch iPad or new iPad Mini until next year, according to one analyst.

While the company is widely expected to release a larger 12.9-inch iPad "Pro" this year to challenge Samsung's recently launched Galaxy Note Pro and Tab Pro slates, an analyst believes that it will not happen this year.

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In a new research note, well-known analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities suggests that Apple may only launch an upgraded iPad Air this year, which would boast an A8 processor and a Touch ID fingerprint scanner. This slate will reportedly be the only iPad to debut in 2014 because Apple wants to shift its resources from the iPad Mini with Retina display toward developing the much-rumored 12.9-inch iPad Pro. The analyst believes that Apple will unleash its larger iPad early next year most likely, with limited initial supply.

"Compared with lower-margin iPad mini with Retina display, which shipments has been tepid, higher-margin iPad Air was a hot selling item in 4Q13, which will slow Apple in developing new iPad mini models," Kuo explains in his research note, as cited by MacRumors. "We believe Apple plans to launch upgraded iPad Air early this year, and will accelerate development of 12.9" iPad. As such, more resources will be allocated to these two products, which will affect the progress of the development of new iPad mini. All told, we think chances of the debut of a new iPad mini in 2H14 are slim. In addition, the 12." iPad is unlikely to be offered in 2014. For these reasons, we predict the only new iPad product in 2H14 will be the upgraded iPad Air."

The analyst further claims that the larger iPad will play an important role, serving as a stepping stone that will allow developers to create more apps for a bigger screen. On the other hand, Kuo also notes that developing the operating system for the upcoming iWatch, which is expected to debut this year, is currently a priority for Apple.

In another intriguing claim, Kuo speculates that Apple will restart mass-producing its fourth-generation iPad in the first quarter of this year, as the company is looking to discontinue the nearly three-year-old iPad 2. Overall, Kuo predicts that Apple will see declining shipment figures for its iPads, which will drop from 34 million units shipped in the first half of last year to below 30 million units in the first half of this year.

While Kuo believes the larger-screen iPad Pro will likely not see the light of day this year, previous reports have suggested that Apple is looking to launch the 12.9-inch tablet sometime toward the end of the third quarter of 2014. The purported iPad Pro is expected to focus on productivity and target the enterprise market, but nothing is confirmed at this point.

Kuo has a good track record when it comes to predicting Apple plans and results, but it is nonetheless advisable to take his predictions with a grain of salt. It would be a bit odd if Apple didn't launch any new iPad Mini in 2014, like the analyst claims, although nothing is impossible. We'll keep you posted as soon as we learn more.



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