Updated from Oct. 9 to provide additional rumors about the sixth iPad in the last paragraph.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- News hit that Apple (AAPL) is going to refresh its iPad at an event later this month. That gathering will mark nearly one year to the day that the iPad mini was introduced to the world, and a fourth-generation iPad was unveiled.
This could be Apple's most radical design change to the iPad tablets in some time, and that has consumers, investors and the media speculating about what we could see.
As a service to our readers, TheStreet has decided to round up some of the more interesting rumors we've heard. Apple will reportedly hold the event Oct. 22 at an undisclosed location. Invites have not officially been sent out yet, and Apple could not be reached for comment to confirm or deny the rumors.
With both Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOG) recently updating their tablet lines in the past few months, the pressure is on Apple to keep innovating, and keep improving the world's best selling tablets.
According to IDC, Apple had 32.4% of the tablet market, selling 14.6 million units in the second-quarter, well above the 8.1 million units second-place Samsung sold during the quarter. Amazon and Google aren't in the top five, according to IDC.Sidenote: TheStreet is currently reviewing the new 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, which was announced last month. Features Apple is likely to refresh both the larger, 9.5-inch iPad, as well as the 7.9-inch iPad mini at the event. Both may see huge overturns in their designs, especially the larger iPad, which is expected to borrow design features from its smaller sibling. The larger iPad is expected to be much slimmer, and offer a thinner design, strikingly similar to the popular iPad mini. Apple's design guru, Jonny Ive, noted that the iPad mini is a "concentration, not a reduction," and he and his team are likely to borrow that for the larger addition. Currently, the 9.7-inch iPad is 9.5-inches tall, weighs 1.44 pounds, and is just 0.37 inches deep. The larger iPad is likely to see a thinner bezel as well, allowing the screen to take up more real estate on the tablet as well. It's highly probable that Apple will incorporate its new fingerprint technology, TouchID, into both iPads as well, as Apple continues to seek to improve security on its devices and enter into the mobile payments space. TouchID now works with iTunes purchases, making online purchases safer and more secure, and there have images floating around the Web that the updated iPad will see TouchID incorporated into the home button.
Channing Smith, portfolio manager at Capital Advisors Growth Fund, doesn't expect major innovations but does expect that these improvements will be enough to generate steady sales growth going forward.
"We don't expect major innovation improvements with the new iPad product line outside of a faster processor, improved camera, and the typical upgrades," Smith said in an email to TheStreet. "However, we believe the upgrades coupled with the new operating system will be "good enough" to drive steady sales growth into the key holiday selling season." Apple will most likely also incorporate its new A7 chip, which runs the new iPhone 5s, into the larger iPad. It's unclear at this stage whether Apple will also put the M7 motion sensor chip into the iPad that went into the iPhone 5s, but it's a possibility given how much it was talked up at the iPhone event. Both the front and rear cameras will also likely get an upgrade and both tablets will likely offer Retina Display, as is now the norm at Apple. It's a good bet that Apple will not use the A7 chip for the iPad mini, having using the A5 chip for the smaller tablet last year. It's possible the iPad mini could have the A6x chip, borrowing from last year's larger iPad. The color scheme for both the larger iPad and the iPad mini may get a huge overall. Images have shown a gold iPad mini, as Apple looks to freshen up its tablet lineup. It's possible that both tablets will come in gold, space gray and silver, incorporating the colors now found on the iPhone 5s. It's a question as to whether Apple keeps its old iPad's and iPad mini in the product lineup, or simply replaces them with the new editions. If so, both tablets could be in line for a price cut. Sources told me last year the iPad mini would start at $329, which proved to be correct. It's highly possible the iPad mini starts at that price again, though nothing has been confirmed yet. The larger iPad starts at $499 for the WiFi 16 GB model, and runs up to $929 for the 4G LTE 128 GB model.
--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York >Contact by Email. Follow @Chris_Ciaccia
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