In large families, it’s common to pass on an older child’s clothes to a younger one. The same is true in the Apple product family. It’s common to pass on features introduced in the big brother iPhone to the little brother iPad. That appears to be the case with the next-generation iPad Air — if the latest gaggle of rumors are to be believed.
“Historically, there’s been a relationship between the iPhone and iPad product launches in that the iPad inherits what was most recently introduced on iPhone,” Jeff Orr, senior practice director for mobile devices at ABI Research, explained to TechNewsWorld.
“What we haven’t seen to this point is new advancements appearing on the iPad and then making their way over to the iPhone,” he said.
The next iPad will get Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint reader and a camera upgrade to put it on par with the iPhone 5s. The front-facing camera will be bumped from 1.2 megapixels to 1.5 MP, and the rear-facing camera from 5 MP to 8 MP. It also may support a dual LED flash, burst mode for stills, and a slow motion mode for video.
It’s likely to receive the same processor upgrade that the next iPhone is expected to get, moving from the dual-core, 64-bit A7 chip to the quad-core A8 chip. Since the A7 already outperforms many mobile quad-core chips from other manufacturers, the prospect of an Apple quad-core processor is building anticipation among some of the company’s fans.
So it seems that most of what will be new in the next iPad will be old hand-me-downs from the iPhone. That could affect the product’s greeting in the market.
“Audiences that are fans of Apple products expect the company to innovate and to constantly revolutionize their experiences with these devices,” Orr said.
Apple’s challenge in the tablet market that it created is shared by the market as a whole — sales are slowing. For the quarter ending in April, Apple saw a 16 percent decline in tablet sales compared with the same period in 2013, according to IDC data. The overall market didn’t do much better, growing at a disappointing 3.9 percent during the previous 12 months.
“Tablets evolved very quickly, and now they’ve gotten to a level that’s pretty darn good. … I think the reason they’re starting to take a hit is that people are realizing they don’t need to upgrade because there isn’t enough change to make a difference,” Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst with Technalysis Research, told TechNewsWorld.
“Even the iPad Air, which was a big improvement over previous iPads, didn’t do as well as a lot of people expected it to do,” he added.
Sales — especially for the iPad mini — also may be hurt by competition.
“They’ve got a lot of competition in the smaller-size segment where there is a large price gap between the 7-inch Android devices and the mini,” Ross Rubin, principal analyst with Reticle Research, told TechNewsWorld.
Getting people to upgrade their hardware has been challenging since the invention of the PC.
“One way that Apple has addressed that previously has been with operating system updates,” Rubin explained. “While they generally will run adequately on old hardware, they’ll run best on the latest and greatest hardware.”
Such an operating system update will be released around the time of the next iPad. While the next iPad may be thin on new features, the next iOS is not, so the tablet may get some sales legs from the new operating system.
Indeed, the future of innovation on the iPad may rest not with the hardware but with software developed for it.
“The radical departures aren’t going to be from the hardware platform, but at the system level in terms of software, iOS and APIs,” ABI’s Orr said.
“Apple can’t solve the needs of every market and every audience,” he noted, “so by enlisting the support of its developers, they can extend the capabilities of iOS and the iOS devices to do more.”