Report: Apple Moving Quickly to Sell New iPhone, iPad Models

Apple will begin selling new models of its iPad tablets and iPhones in mid-March, according to a report published last week in 9to5Mac.

It will debut a 4-inch iPhone, called the “iPhone 5se,” as well as a new iPad Air at a March 15 event, followed by a retail and online sales launch three days later, said the report, which cited unnamed sources. Apple is not expected to offer its usual preorder sales event, but that decision is subject to change.

The new tablet, called the “iPad Air 3,” reportedly will include a new Smart Connector and support for various Apple accessories, most importantly an updated smart keyboard and Apple Pencil.

The body of the new phone reportedly will be similar to that of the iPhone 5s, which was released in 2013, and the device will include new A9 and M9 processors, an NFC chip that will allow the phone to use the Apple Pay mobile checkout technology, the same camera as the iPhone 6 support for always-on Siri activation, plus the ability to take Live Photos.

“What else will be in the new iPhone and iPad? Will it contain WiFi or the faster LiFi or some permutation thereof that doubles the range of connectivity while using less power? There’s always a surprise feature or so in any Apple device,” said Susan Schreiner, an analyst atC4 Trends.

Appeal to Mass Market

Apple may be trying to appeal to a subset of customers who want to buy an Apple product but cannot afford to pay for it at current price points, according to Kevin Krewell, principal analyst atTirias Research.

“The new small iPhone to replace the iPhone 5s makes a lot of sense. There is a group of people who like the smaller form factor and others who want an iPhone, but can only afford it at a lower price. This new iPhone allows Apple to upgrade the iPhone 5s to the latest chip technology, while maintaining 5s pricing,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“The rumored iPhone fills a sweet spot that Apple missed when it introduced the iPhone 6 in terms of size. While there was a pent-up demand for a larger screen smartphone, there still is a huge population that prefers the convenience of the smaller screen to a larger screen,” Schreiner told the E-Commerce Times.

“These consumers didn’t run out and buy the iPhone 6 just because it was the latest and greatest from Apple. How many people still held on to their iPhone 5s because of this?” she asked.

It’s unusual for Apple to release a new phone midcycle, Krewell noted, but the move may be designed to boost sales in China, which is a key market for the company’s international business.

“There are lots of rumors about what Apple will introduce next and when. March 18 or thereabouts sounds about right because it will be at the end of Q1, which Apple anticipates to be slow due to a range of factors, including currency and geopolitical shifts and turmoil,” said Schreiner.

Softening Sales

The report comes at a time when Apple isstruggling to make a market for some of its core product upgrades, particularly the iPhone and iPad, which have seen growth curves start to soften.

“Apple needs to shake things up a bit,” said analystJeff Kagan.

“Their rapid growth wave seems to be starting to slow,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Growth in the installed base of iPhones has slowed from previous years, according to newly released data fromConsumer Intelligence Research Partners. The installed base grew 11 percent in the December 2015 quarter, compared with 23 percent in the December 2014 quarter.

installed base of iphones by model

Apple had some of its greatest success with the iPhone 6 and 6s models, which had larger form factors, said CIRP co-founder Michael Levin. New methods of financing phones have made the more expensive models more affordable to users.

“So we’re not sure what Apple wants to accomplish with the reported smaller phone, at least in the U.S.,” he told the E-Commerce Times, noting that the 5s seems to meet the needs of U.S. customers looking for a less-expensive handset.

The new phone might have more to do with meeting the needs of non-U.S. customers, Levin said, “who also don’t have access to the same phone financing programs as U.S. customers.”

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain's New York Business and The New York Times.

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