KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi-Kuo, who has a strong Apple product prediction track record, is out with a new report today with his expectations for the iPad line in 2014:
- The iPad 2 will be discontinued in Q1 2014, and this lines up with a report from earlier this week. The iPad 2 has been on sale since March of 2011 and it sports old technologies such as a non-Retina display, 30-pin dock connector, and A5 processor, making it due for discontinuation. The iPad 2 has, however, remained popular in the education market, so perhaps Apple will keep that model around as an educational-only version of the iPad.
- The fourth-generation iPad will go back into mass production in Q1 2014. Just like Apple brought the iPhone 4 back (at least for some regions), Kuo says the iPad 4 will be making an encore. The reasoning is unclear (perhaps to replace the iPad 2), but the device’s technologies are still strong with the Retina display, Lightning connector, and A6X system-on-a-chip.
- The iPad Air will be updated in late Q3. Kuo says that this new iPad (unsurprisingly) will gain a more advanced processor (the A8 in all likelihood) and the Touch ID fingerprint reader from the iPhone 5s. A late Q3 launch would mean that the new iPad would arrive earlier than the October/November timeframe of last year’s models.
- Chances of a new iPad mini in 2014 are “slim,” according to Kuo due to the popularity of the iPad Air and Apple’s focus on developing other new products this year. The iPad mini was updated with the A7 chip and Retina display in late-2013, so the current technology is fairly stable, and this makes an update not truly necessary this year.
- Bigger iPad unlikely to launch this year. While Kuo says Apple is certainly developing a 12.9-inch version of the iPad to drive new applications, he says a 2014 launch is unlikely. If it happens this year, shipments will be limited. Why? Kuo says Apple’s software teams are focusing on finishing up the software for the impending iWatch, which is taking priority over the software enhancements necessary for a larger iPad display.
So, unlike in 2012 or 2013, Kuo is not expecting multiple new iPads this year. Instead, Apple will replace the aging iPad 2 with the faster iPad 4, keep the iPad mini at status quo, and beef up the popular iPad Air with the latest technologies.