Rumor Roundup: A little more to show you
If this week's flurry of rumors are to be believed, not only has the iPad mini finally graduated from mythical unicorn status to "shipping soon" after over two years of rumors, it's also going to share the stage with updates to virtually every other product Apple makes.
"How is Apple going to cram all this into one keynote?" you may ask. It's a fair question, and the answer is simple: they probably won't bother. Rumored updates to the Mac mini and iMac in particular sound like they're just processor/RAM bumps of the existing models, unlikely to be worthy of mention at Apple's media event.
After each product that was the focus of rumors this week, I've put in my guess for how likely it is to get specifically mentioned at the upcoming event.
13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display: 90 percent
"Sources familiar with Apple's plans" confirmed the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is coming to a keynote stage near you, complete with a 2,560 x 1,600 pixel display. AllThingsD's sources are usually spot on when it comes to these last-minute revelations, so I'll buy this rumor for a dollar.
Leaked pricing information seems to indicate the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display will start at $500 less than its 15-inch big brother. Makes sense.
Spyshots of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display show a design pretty much identical to the 15-inch model, just smaller. No real surprises there. Followup pics show a fully-assembled model.
Seemingly concrete evidence has come from a wide variety of sources makes the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display seem like a very safe bet.
Mac mini and iMac: 10 percent
Those of you who are unabashed Mac mini fans are likely excited by this news, but spec bumps just aren't sexy enough for the rest of us. Unless Apple's adding something else in addition to beefier numbers on its desktop Macs, I wouldn't expect them to get mentioned at the event at all.
iPad mini: 100 percent
I've spent the past two years being skeptical that this product existed or that it ever would exist, but for better or worse it seems to be coming, and it's likely to be the main focus of the event.
Supposedly the iPad mini will come in 24 different flavors, with two colors, four different storage capacities, and WiFi-only plus 3G/LTE-capable models. None of that is unexpected except for the wide breadth of storage capacities; the iPad has only ever come in three different capacities, with 16 GB at the low end. AppleInsider suggests the iPad mini might come in a cheaper 8 GB model, but this seems unlikely considering how huge iOS apps' sizes have become over the past two years.
Photos show an LG-built display matching the purported size of the iPad mini's display. No one put this display under the microscope to determine its pixel density, but thus far all the rumors have pointed to a non-Retina display 1,024 x 768 resolution for the 7.85-inch display.
Analyst Gene Munster crunched some numbers and decided that the iPad mini will sell 5 million units during the upcoming holiday quarter. According to him, that means sales of full-sized iPads will go down by 1 million units. He expects total iPad sales of 25 million units this quarter: 5 million iPad minis and 20 million iPads.
If you think it's weird to start making projections like this before Apple even shows the thing onstage, you're not alone. It will be interesting to revisit this claim in about three months and see whether Munster got it right or not.
Another analyst says Apple doesn't need to compete on price with the iPad mini, because it's going to kick competing tablets' butts up and down the block no matter how much it costs. He says a Nexus-like $199 price entry for the iPad mini doesn't make sense, and $299 is more likely. On the other hand...
9to5 Mac's "best guess" is $329. I don't buy that price at all; Apple's a fan of nice, round numbers for its introductory pricing of premium products, a bit of psychological trickery that's taught in Marketing 101. $299 seems more likely.
Several reporting iPad mini will ship and hit stores Nov. 2 (9to5 Mac and many others)
Multiple sources are claiming the iPad mini will be on store shelves less than two weeks after its unveiling.
Some analyst thinks Apple will discontinue the iPad 2 in order to "make room" for the iPad mini in Apple's product lineup -- a question we put to our TUAW reader braintrust over the weekend. This claim makes a lot more sense than typical analyst meanderings; I can't think of many reasons to recommend an iPad 2 over a smaller iPad with the same display resolution. Battery life, maybe.
Full-size iPad refresh: 50 percent
This isn't the first time rumors of a mid-cycle refresh of the "new iPad" a.k.a. iPad 3 have been voiced, but from my perspective they still don't make much sense. I'm having a tough time figuring out who benefits from changing up the mainstream iPad's design six months after its introduction. Consumers don't benefit from the new Lightning connector, because it's still relatively new and has much fewer accessories than the old-school 30-pin connector.
Apple doesn't seem to benefit either, because its suppliers have to re-tool significantly for a device that's presumably midway through its product cycle. You can argue that it simplifies production having the Lightning connector on both the iPad and iPad mini, but in that case why not put Lightning connectors on the iPhone 4 and 4S, too?
Only one thing is certain: if an updated, full-sized iPad does come out this week, expect an X-Class solar flare of nonsensical Nerd Rage to sweep across the internet over how Apple "obsoleted" the new iPad after only six months.
A couple books in the iBookstore say they require iBooks 3.0 or later. The immediate assumption might be that this is merely a typo, but books so labeled aren't fully compatible with the current 2.0 version of the iBooks app.
Our own Erica Sadun is convinced that iBooks and textbooks will be a big focus of the upcoming event, with Apple positioning the iPad mini as an e-reader like the Kindle Fire that's perfect for educational settings.
Whoever TNW's source was on this, I hope they're no longer a "trusted" source. Virtually everyone I know uttered a variation of "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" when this story broke, because it didn't make the slightest bit of sense. Why would Apple pay "high double digit" millions of dollars for a company infamous for sucking down over $40 million in funding without producing any return on that huge investment?
The answer, of course, is that Apple wouldn't do that at all. According to AllThingsD, Apple paid out a few million dollars to hire away Color's engineering team, and that's it. It's a safe bet we won't be hearing a word about that on October 23.
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