At 10 a.m. PT today, Apple is expected to show off new iPad and iPad Mini models. In the month before the iPhone 5c and 5s were announced, there were constant rumors about what they would sport. On the whole, the rumor mill was very accurate, no doubt thanks to a little help from Apple to keep the iPhone top of mind. By contrast, there have been few rumors circulating about the new iPads.
Does that mean Apple has shocks in store -- or that there's actually not much to say about them? I'm betting on the latter. I fully expect Apple's 64-bit A7 processor, M7 motion coprocessor, and fingerprint scanner (all introduced in the iPhone 5s) to make their way on to the full-size iPad. Some or all might also find their way into the cheaper iPad Mini, but given how the iPad Mini accounts for more than half of all iPad sales at a lower profit per unit than the full-sized model, I won't be surprised if we see the iPad Mini treated like the iPhone 5c and be computationally inferior, at least in cheaper models.
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We'll probably see the fifth-generation full-size iPad have the sharper lines of the iPad Mini (which I prefer), and Apple will likely add the gold color option introduced in the iPhone 5s. The iPad Mini may get the Retina display of its full-size sibling, for a modest improvement in screen clarity. I hope we don't see the iPad Mini take on the M&M colors of the iPhone 5c, but that could be the case. We may also see new Apple iPad covers, perhaps with built-in keyboard, à la Microsoft's Type Cover for its Surface Pro.
We'll certainly see new iPod models, as well as a deeper look at the new Mac Pro and its radical new design -- and, for the third time, the forthcoming OS X Mavericks, a good but not earth-shattering upgrade for Mac users. I really hope we get the significant updates promised earlier this year to the iWork suite for both iOS and OS X -- Apple needs to make Pages and Numbers much better than they now are to truly compete with Microsoft Office. Plus, I hope we'll get a better understanding of iBeacons, Apple's intriguing indoor location interaction technology.
But for most people, new iPads are what's hot. A 64-bit iPad, coupled with the 64-bit iOS 7 and apps designed for 64-bit processing (there are now extremely few), could be a powerful alternative to a lightweight laptop. It could even run complex or compute-intensive apps such as Adobe Photoshop that today need more horsepower than what a tablet delivers.
I know many people who carry only an iPad while traveling, and at the Interop networking conference a few weeks ago, I met several CIOs who expected to have sizable tablet-only user communities in a few years, particularly for sales forces and field forces. The group could even extend to desk workers who require little beyond email, the Web, and core office productivity capabilities that you can already get on an iPad and and that Google, Microsoft, and Apple are all working to deliver via the Web.
But more is needed.
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