Wednesday July 29, 2015 6:51 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
The latest numbers from market research firm IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker show that Apple remains the largest vendor in a declining tablet market, shipping 10.9 million iPads in the second quarter of 2015. While the iPad continues to be the best-selling tablet, its worldwide market share fell below 25% as Apple faced increased competition from low-cost rivals Lenovo, Huawei and LG.
Samsung continued to be the second largest tablet vendor with 7.6 million tablets shipped in the second quarter and 17% market share, a 12% year-over-year unit decline. Lenovo, Huawei and LG Electronics rounded off the top five, with 2.5 million, 1.6 million and 1.6 million global tablet shipments in the second quarter respectively. All other tablet vendors had a combined 45.6% market share.
iPad sales have declined for six consecutive quarters year-over-year in what has become a stagnated tablet market over the past few years, but that trend could be broken in a few months as Apple is expected to release up to three new iPads in time for the holiday shopping season: iPad Air 3, iPad mini 4 and the much-rumored 12.9-inch "iPad Pro" targeted at professional and enterprise users.
Apple's fourth-generation iPad mini could be a miniaturized version of the iPad Air 2, according to Japanese blog Mac Otakara. The report claims that the iPad mini 4 will adopt some of the same features and specifications as the iPad Air 2, including an 8-megapixel rear-facing iSight camera, ultra-thin 6.1mm design and possibly a fully laminated display with anti-reflective coating.
Mac Otakara claims that Apple may release the new iPad mini alongside an A9-based iPad Air 3, contrary to a sketchy report last week from Taiwan's Economic Daily News that said no new iPad Air will be released in 2015 and that the iPad mini 4 could be Apple's last 7.9-inch tablet as the company focuses on its larger-sized iPad Air and much-rumored "iPad Pro" in the future.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a respectable track record at reporting on Apple's upcoming product plans, recently issued a note to investors that also claimed the iPad mini 4 will essentially be a smaller version of the iPad Air 2. Kuo did not make any predictions about the iPad Air 3 or the "iPad Pro" in his note, but he has mentioned the latter 12.9-inch tablet in previous notes to investors.
Apple releasing a trio of new iPads later this year -- the iPad Air 3, iPad mini 4 and "iPad Pro" -- could help the company rebound from five consecutive quarters of declining iPad sales. Moreover, while Mac Otakara has a respectable track record reporting about Apple, there is not enough substantive evidence at this time to firmly suggest that all three tablets will actually be unveiled this autumn.
While the iPad Air 2 may not see a refresh, the iPad mini 4 and iPad Pro will see introductions. Liaoxian Li, investment advisor at Fubon Hardware, tells Economic Daily News that Apple may want the attention on the new iPad Pro and thus will let its main assembly plant for iPads, Foxconn, focus on the Pro to maximize deployment capacity. Li believes a new iPad Air might not be released until 2016. Economic Daily News has a mixed track record on rumors and the accuracy of this particular analyst isn't known.
Additionally, the report claims that the new iPad mini might be the last one as the Apple wants to focus on the two larger iPads in the future. Many people were disappointed with the iPad mini update in 2014, which essentially added Touch ID to the existing iPad mini 2. The next iPad mini will likely be more of an upgrade, with a rumored rear shell featuring iPad Air 2 design elements already making the rounds.
While it's possible Apple won't upgrade the iPad Air 2 this year, the company has been constraining supplies of the iPad Air to third-party retailers, suggesting the iPad Air 2 would become the lower-cost option as an iPad Air 3 slots into Apple's tablet lineup. However, it's possible Apple introduces an iPad Air 3 with minimal additions, as it did with the iPad mini 3.
Insider inventory constraint information from major retailer Target hints at some possible end of life timelines for various products like the iPod, iPad mini 2, and iPad Air, many of which may be discontinued in the near future following the launch of new products.
According to a screenshot of an internal inventory system shared by a Target employee, all models of the iPod are currently constrained by Apple ahead of a rumored update that could come as soon as tomorrow.
Images of unreleased iPod touches, nanos, and shuffles were first discovered hidden within iTunes 12.2, and a rumor has suggested the iPod touch could receive a processor upgrade and new color options while the nano and the shuffle might be available in new colorways.
As for the iPad mini 2 and the iPad Air, replenishment of existing stock is currently constrained, with Target aiming to have 1 color in stock at each of its stores. Dwindling in-store stock suggests Apple could be planning to discontinue the iPad mini 2 and the iPad Air following the release of new models, which is expected to happen in the fall.
The iPad mini 2 and the iPad Air may be replaced by the iPad mini 3 and the iPad Air 2 as lower-cost older-generation models following the launch of a third-generation iPad Air and a fourth-generation iPad mini. We haven't heard much on what a third-generation iPad Air might offer, but an A9 processor and Force Touch are solid guesses.
A fourth-generation iPad mini has been rumored to be in the works, with an iPad Air-style redesign that eliminates the mute switch and introduces larger speaker holes. An updated iPad mini would also likely incorporate a much-improved processor, more RAM, and possibly Force Touch.
It is not clear when Apple plans to introduce new iPad mini and iPad Air models, but Target's guess of fall 2015 is a safe bet. For the last several years, Apple has updated its iPad lineup in October or November, and that's when we're likely to see new iPads in 2015. This year's iPad update may include an all new model, the much-rumored larger-screened iPad Pro.
Tuesday June 30, 2015 11:29 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple has reached a partnership with mobile connectivity company GigSky to expand Apple SIM cellular data plans to over 90 countries and territories around the world. iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 users that have Apple SIM installed can now purchase short-term data plans while traveling in a long list of countries throughout Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, South America and other regions worldwide.
Apple SIM is now available for purchase at Apple Retail Stores in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. Apple SIM cellular data plans were previously limited to participating carriers in the United States and United Kingdom, including AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the U.S. and EE in the U.K.
"With Apple SIM in iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models, you get the convenience of choosing a cellular data plan from select carrier partners right on your iPad. And when you travel abroad, Apple SIM gives you the added flexibility to stay connected in more than 90 countries and territories around the world. So when you reach your destination and want to check your email, find directions, or send a message back home, you can purchase a cellular data plan for the duration of your trip — whether it’s a day, a week, or a month."
GigSky cellular data plans are available on a pay-as-you-go basis with no long-term commitments. Exact prices are listed on GigSky's website and vary based based on the country, data amount and length of plan. Given that iPads are unlocked, travelers can also insert a SIM card belonging to a local carrier if preferred.
Wednesday June 3, 2015 10:30 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Typo Innovations today announced that it will begin selling its iPad Air keyboard case at Apple Stores and through its website, according to Re/code. The announcement comes just two days after Typo reached a settlement with BlackBerry that will prevent it from selling Typo for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus due to its similar look and functionality as the physical keyboard found on most BlackBerry devices.
Typo for iPad Air is a detachable keyboard featuring built-in autocorrect technology and an adjustable stand, although unlike Typo for iPhone, the product enters a market crowded with multiple accessory makers that sell virtually identical keyboards. Typo retails for $189 in the United States and is compatible with both the original iPad Air and iPad Air 2. The company is also accepting pre-orders for an iPad mini version of the keyboard.
Apple today added several iPad Air 2 models to its online store for refurbished products, marking the first time refurbished versions of the iPad Air 2 have been made available for purchase.
Released in October of 2014, the iPad Air 2 features a slimmer body than the original iPad Air, plus a triple-core A8X processor, an 8-megapixel camera Touch ID, and a gapless display with an anti-reflective screen coating.
Apple is currently offering several refurbished iPad Air 2 models, ranging from the entry-level 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad Air 2 to the 128GB Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Air 2. All models are discounted by 15 to 17 percent, dropping prices by $80 to $160. For the entry-level Wi-Fi only 16GB model, the discount lowers the price to $419 from the original $499 price tag.
That price point beats many sale prices from third-party vendors, and as with all of Apple's refurbished products, the iPad Air 2 models come with a full 1-year warranty, a new battery, and a new outer shell.
Apple's refurbished inventory fluctuates on a regular basis based on available supply, so models that are available today may not be available tomorrow. The refurbished iPad Air 2 models can be purchased immediately from the online store.
Apple today launched a new microsite focused on the iPad, exploring the way the iPad can "change the way you do things every day." The site offers up a selection of apps and usage ideas for the iPad, organized into several categories: Cooking with iPad, Learning with iPad, Small Business with iPad, Traveling with iPad, and Redecorating with iPad.
Like the company's past advertising efforts, this new campaign aims to portray the iPad as a tool that's useful in all aspects of life that goes far beyond mere content consumption, as can be seen in the introductory video on the site. The video features people using the iPad in a whole range of situations, from cooking to managing a business.
Each section of the new site includes imagery covering what the iPad can do and a wide range of recommended apps for each purpose. "Cooking with iPad," for example, has sections on using the iPad as a cookbook, as a tool to create cookbooks, and as a prep tool for organizing ingredients to be purchased.
Some of the recommended apps include Green Kitchen, Cook, and Epicurious, and the site also recommends the Smart Cover as a tool for propping up the iPad while cooking. Siri is highlighted as a way to use the iPad hands-free in the kitchen, and a long list of apps is linked at the bottom of the page.
Learning with iPad focuses on using the iPad to learn at all ages, with sections highlighting learning through play, programming, exploring space through apps like Star Walk 2, using textbooks in iBooks, using apps like Notability and Coursera for learning, and exploring free courses on iTunes U. Hobby-based apps are also included in a "Never stop learning" section.
The other three iPad sections, Small Business, Traveling, and Redecorating, are equally as extensive, suggesting a range of use cases and apps for different situations that people might otherwise have missed. Every app used on the new site and within the "Everything changes for iPad" site is also listed in a special section on the App Store.
Over the course of the last few years, Apple has explored several different advertising campaigns for the iPad in an effort to spur people into purchasing one of its tablets. We've seen "Why You'll Love an iPad," "Your Verse," and "Start Something New" in 2013 and 2014.
Apple changes its iPad advertising tactics much more frequently than it does for other products, likely because its iPad sales have been down for several quarters in a row. During its the second quarter of 2015, Apple's iPad sales were down to 12.6 million from 16.35 million in the year-ago quarter.
Tim Cook has remained optimistic about iPad sales, however, suggesting that the company's future product pipeline (which includes the rumored "iPad Pro") and its efforts in the enterprise market will ultimately cause iPad sales to grow again. "I believe the iPad is an extremely good business over the long-term," he said. "When precisely it begins to grow again I wouldn't want to predict, but I strongly believe that it will."
OtterBox today announced the availability of its new Symmetry Series folio cases for iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 in black with faux leather or white with a tan fabric cover. The cases feature a one-piece protective shell and slim folio that wraps around to cover the screen, alongside a micro suede interior cover to keep the tablet's display free of scratches.
The Symmetry Series cases for iPad double as both protective cases and multi-position stands with 360-degrees rotation for landscape and portrait viewing. The cases also automatically wake and sleep the iPad screen when the folio is opened and closed, and have certified drop protection in case your iPad takes a tumble.
OtterBox Symmetry Series folio cases for iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 can be purchased through the accessory maker's website for $69.95 and $59.95 respectively. OtterBox makes the number-one selling cases in North America and was one of the earlier providers of cases and accessories for iPhone, iPad and other products by both Apple and competitors.
Thursday April 30, 2015 6:48 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
The latest numbers from market research firm IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker reveal that Apple continues to be the largest vendor in a declining tablet market, shipping 12.6 million iPads in the first quarter of 2015 to capture a 26.8% share of the global tablet market. Apple maintained the top position despite facing a 22.9% decline in tablet shipments compared to the year-ago quarter.
Samsung was the second largest tablet vendor with 9 million tablet shipments in the first quarter, good for 19.1% market share in the global tablet market and a 16.5% year-over-year decline. Lenovo, Asus and LG Electronics rounded off the top five, with 2.5 million, 1.8 million and 1.4 million global tablet shipments in the first quarter respectively for a combined 12.2% market share.
Apple, Samsung and several other electronics makers are feeling the effects of a prolonged slowdown in the tablet market, with the iPad declining in annual growth for five consecutive quarters and competing tablets experiencing similar trends. The launch of the larger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus and lack of major updates to the iPad lineup since 2013 are likely contributing factors to falling iPad sales over the past few years, while consumers also upgrade their tablets less often than smartphones.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, during the company's recent earnings call, said he believes that continued investments in the company's product pipeline and shift to the enterprise market will help the iPad be an "extremely good business over the long-term," although he stopped short of providing a forward-looking statement about when iPad sales could begin growing again.
"And so my belief is, that as the inventory plays out, as we make some continued investments in our product pipeline, which we're doing, that we already had planned and have had planned for some time," said Cook. "Between that, the inventory playing out, the enterprise starting to take over, I think still, i believe the iPad is an extremely good business over the long-term. When precisely it begins to grow again I wouldn't want to predict, but I strongly believe that it will."
Strategy Analytics shared smartphone data for the first quarter on Wednesday.
Thursday April 30, 2015 6:32 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
Apple today announced a "first-of-its-kind initiative" that will see the Cupertino company partnering with Japan Post Group and IBM to bring IBM-developed apps and analytics into the hands of senior citizens in Japan. The project hopes to connect its customers with apps related to services, healthcare, community, and family.
The initial plan sees Japan Post Group entering the service into a test phase, with expansion planned in stages and the final objective of the initiative being 4 million to 5 million customers in Japan by 2020. As a raw statistic, currently more than 33 million senior citizens collectively make up about 25 percent of Japan's population, so the elderly-focused initiative announced today definitely has room to grow and expand in the future.
“This initiative has potential for global impact, as many countries face the challenge of supporting an aging population, and we are honored to be involved in supporting Japan’s senior citizens and helping enrich their lives,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “iPad is incredibly intuitive, easy to use and has accessibility features built in, making it a perfect device for any generation to be connected and engaged.”
“We are joining with two of the world’s most respected leaders in technology to bring our elderly generation into the connected world, expand our businesses by deepening relationships, and discover new ways to strengthen the fabric of our society and economy,” said Taizo Nishimuro, CEO of Japan Post Group.
Some of the new apps debuting on the service will include experiences custom-built by IBM Global Business Services, reminding customers with alerts for medication, diet, and exercise. Other apps will directly connect its customers to a larger community, showcasing various activities, possible job listings, and provide basic service support for grocery shopping. Previously, Apple has partnered with IBM for a lineup of enterprise apps called MobileFirst, a service which the two have continuously expanded upon in the months since it was announced.
According to today's press release, IBM plans to bring analytic and accessibility technology to the initiative, providing ease-of-use to its elderly customers and ensuring a positive experience. Japan Post Group, under its parent company Japan Post Holdings, provides postal and package delivery services, banking services, and life insurance to "nearly all" of the around 115 million adults in Japan, which angles the company to provide a wider reach for the elderly-focused initiative in the long run.
Tuesday April 28, 2015 8:15 pm PDT by Husain Sumra
An iPad "test model" was one of the stolen items during a robbery and kidnapping at a Cupertino home earlier this month, reports the San Jose Mercury News. It's unclear whether the test device was for a previous iPad model or a future one.
The robbers took the device, along with electronics, prescription drugs and cash valued at $7,500, from a Cupertino home during an incident in which a 20-year-old man was kidnapped and robbed after answering a woman's online advertisement.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office has arrested the two suspected robbers, who took the items and forced the victim into their car before driving three-quarters of a mile and releasing him. The victim contacted the sheriff's department five days later and the case is still being investigated. The test iPad has not yet been found.
Apple has had test devices stolen in the past, with the most famous example being the test iPhone 4 that was lost in a Bay Area bar before being found by someone and sold to a reporter for $5,000. The reporter then posted images and a breakdown of the new device before returning it to Apple. After that, the reporter's house was raided by authorities and his computers and other property were seized.
Update: According to iMore, the stolen iPad was an "outdated model or test device", not a prototype of an unreleased device.
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