In addition to a new version of the full-sized iPad, Apple reportedly has a refresh of the 7.9-inch iPad Mini in the works. Bloomberg’s anonymous sources believe the devices will arrive on store shelves by the end of 2014, where they will join a new iPhone (which Apple could unveil Sept. 9) and the long-rumored “iWatch.”
Apple nearly always refuses to comment on rumors about upcoming products, making it hard to guess what an upgraded iPad might offer. It’s safe to assume the tablets will include improved hardware, such as a faster processor, and a thinner body; on the software front, they’ll certainly run iOS 8, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system; but beyond that, it’s really anyone’s guess as to new features. TechCrunch thinks the next iPad will come with a new anti-reflective coating “that should make it easier to read in bright light situations,” but that might not be all—why wouldn’t Apple, just as an example, build in a fingerprint scanner like the one already available in the iPhone 5S?
Apple’s next tablet could also face a challenging market: After a few years of explosive growth, hunger for the iPad seems to be slackening, at least according to research firm IDC. While it still holds a comfortable lead over rival devices from manufacturers such as Samsung, Lenovo, and ASUS, IDC estimates the iPad’s overall market-share as falling from 33 percent to 26.9 percent in the last year.
“Until recently, Apple, and to a lesser extent Samsung, have been sitting at the top of the market, minimally impacted by the progress from competitors,” IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani wrote in a statement accompanying the data. “Now we are seeing growth amongst the smaller vendors and a leveling [sic] of shares across more vendors as the market enters a new phase.”
Not everybody agrees with IDC’s assumption that iPad is losing market-share. “IDC had to resort to padding ‘other’ shipments in order to achieve negative market share shift for Apple,” Apple Insider wrote in a rather damning piece. “There are no recognizable competitors IDC can legitimately compare against Apple in a favorable light, so it must now statistically invent dozens of small firms that ship tiny batches of devices that can charitably be defined as ‘tablets.’”
Meanwhile, Apple is working to broaden the iPad’s appeal. The company’s recent deal with IBM, for example, could result in enough iPads selling to the enterprise to affect overall market-share. If that becomes the case, the next iPads won’t have to solely rely on consumer sales to become a hit.
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