Apple Announces Oct. 22 Event; New iPads Expected

(San Jose Mercury News/MCT) —

Apple Inc. on Tuesday invited media to an event in San Francisco next week, where the consumer-tech giant is expected to show off new iPad models for the holiday season.

The invitation, which says, “We still have a lot to cover,” announced an event Oct. 22 at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The event will take place a month after Apple unveiled two new iPhone models and launched them in several countries worldwide, selling 9 million of the new smartphones in the first weekend of availability.

The event is expected to include new iPads, as well as details on Apple’s new Mac Pro and its OS X Mavericks operating system. The Mac Pro, with its new design, was previewed at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last June, while Mavericks, also debuted at that same show, has been in beta testing since then.

Apple last updated its iPad line almost a year ago, when the iPad Mini made its debut. The smaller tablet – the screen is slightly less than 8 inches, while the full-sized iPad measures almost 10 inches diagonally – arrived after Google and Amazon popularized the smaller tablet design with their Nexus 7 and Kindle tablet offerings, respectively.

With this year’s update, many expect Apple to upgrade the iPad Mini’s screen to Apple’s so-called Retina display, a high-definition screen that would make the device more comparable to new versions of the Nexus and Kindle, which have higher-resolution screens than Apple’s smaller tablet. But Reuters reported earlier this month that Apple was facing issues producing enough Retina displays for the launch of the new iPad Mini, and Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi concurred last week.

“They’re refreshing their iPad, and from what we hear from the supply-chain perspective, there’ll also be a new Mini with Retina display, but it’ll be in short supply,” Milanesi said last week.

The fifth-generation full-sized iPad is expected to be faster and lighter, with a slimmed-down case similar to the iPad Mini, and could receive Apple’s new 64-bit A7 chip, which was introduced at September’s iPhone launch.

After launching the iPad Mini and fourth-generation iPad last October, Apple sold 3 million of the devices in the first three days of availability, double the previous record for an iPad launch. In the all-important quarter that includes the year-end shopping season, Apple set another record by selling 22.9 million iPads in three months, though the company did not break down how many were iPad Minis.

Sales have slowed since Apple’s second consecutive phenomenal fourth quarter for revenues: Apple sold 19.5 million iPads in the first quarter of 2013 and 14.6 million in the second quarter, a year-over-year decline from 17 million sales in the second quarter of 2012, when Apple launched the third-generation iPad.

If Apple does launch new iPads at the Oct. 22 event, they will join the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C as the Cupertino, Calif., company’s premier offerings for the year-end shopping season, which Apple has dominated the past two years. In 2011, Apple posted record quarterly revenue of $46.3 billion, and record quarterly net profit of $13 billion, or $13.87 per share, in the final three months of the year; the company topped that performance in terms of revenues in 2012, when it earned $13.81 a share on sales of $54.5 billion.

While Apple continues to rake in huge revenues, the company’s growth curve has flattened somewhat in the past year, worrying investors and sending its shares from highs of more than $700 a share in September 2012 to less than $400 earlier this year. Apple remains the most valuable company in the world in terms of market capitalization, however, with the total value of its shares topping $450 billion.

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