macbooks

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested that Apple will be introducing new models across the MacBook range at WorldWide Developers Conference in June (via MacRumors). Previously the analyst said he didn’t expect Apple to continue with non-Retina machines but now he does.

Kuo expects all the new models to be bumped up to Haswell processors, expected to give a modest performance bump in the 7-13 percent range, with likely a much better boost to battery-life, though we don’t expect this to be anywhere close to the 24-hour life theoretically achievable …

There is no word of the rumored Retina version of the MacBook Air, Kuo sticking to his earlier prediction that Apple cannot yet achieve a Retina screen at the MBA price-point/size.

Although Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested in the earnings call that we shouldn’t expect any new hardware before the fall, his wording was deliberately vague (“I’m just saying we’ve got really great stuff coming in the fall”) and could allow for a relatively minor refresh of existing hardware.

Kuo correctly predicted the demise of the MacBook Pro 17, and perhaps more related, that the Retina MacBook Pro would supplement rather than replace the classic MacBook Pro models. However, it’s worth observing that he had previously predicted the non-Retina MacBook Pro range would be discontinued in June, where now he says they will remain. His timing has also changed dramatically, for instance he missed iMac updates by a full quater last year.

Kuo is also suggesting a new low-cost iPad Mini in the $199 to $249 range, to allow Apple to compete against cheaper Android tablets.

Prior to iPad mini 2 launch, Apple might roll out a more affordable iPad mini to compete with Android products. To cut costs, Apple might push for lower component prices, use a more advanced process to produce the A5 processor, simplify metal casing production, remove the rear camera, cut storage to 8GB and find more component suppliers to lower costs. We think this cheaper iPad mini retail for US$199~249.

Although Apple typically drops the price of previous models when it releases new products, it seems more of a stretch. It’s relatively early days for the iPad Mini, and it’s unlikely that cost savings would achieve that large a price-cut, so Kuo’s suggestion would mean Apple further reducing its margins on what is – for Apple – already a low-margin product. Given market jitters about Apple’s falling margins, we don’t see the company being in any hurry to accelerate this.

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