Apple's Next iPad Ramping Up: Rumor

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) --It wouldn't be a day ending in "y" if there wasn't a rumor about an Apple ( AAPL) product, right?

This time, the rumor is about the Cupertino, Calif.-based firm's new iPad. Industry Web site DigiTimes reports that the next version of Apple's larger iPad will start production between July and August, as it gets ready to ship late in the calendar third quarter.

DigiTimes has been pretty spotty with Apple rumors in the past, but this one seems to have a little more credence than previous rumors, as the timeframe coincides with what CEO Tim Cook described on Apple's most recent earnings call. "Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can't wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014," he said.

The new iPad is expected to have some changes and tweaks to its design, to look a lot more like its less expensive sibling, the iPad mini. Media reports suggest that it will have a thinner bezel and slimmer profile.

The Apple rumor mill continues to spin, with the next version of the iPad mini reportedly pushed back to November. One reason suggested is that the iPad mini negatively impacted sales of the larger iPad, with ASPs coming down in recent quarters. The ASP for the iPad in Apple's fiscal second quarter was $449, down from $466 in the first quarter.

Apple sold 19.47 million iPads in its second quarter, and 22.86 million iPads in its first quarter.

The tech giant, however, still has a stranglehold on the tablet market, according to the latest numbers from IDC. Apple owned 39.6% of the tablet market at the end of the calendar first quarter, though that's down from 58.1% at the end of the first quarter in 2012. Despite the drop in market share, the iPad is still experiencing 65% year-over-year growth, certainly nothing to sneeze at.

At a recent tech conference, Cook highlighted just how important the iPad is to the tablet market. "I think you've got some tablets where they were bought and the experience isn't good and it isn't used very much," Cook said at the D11 event. "I look at my usage of the iPad and it's significant now. It's changed the game."

With a redesign of the larger iPad and perhaps an iPad mini with Retina Display, Apple may very well keep its foot on the gas in the tablet market. It should demonstrate that innovation is alive and well in Cupertino, something that's plagued Apple for much of 2013. The drastic drop in the stock price, coupled with a general malaise by the media and Wall Street towards Apple have put the tech giant in an underdog role.

A refreshed iPad lineup would certainly go a long way towards removing that thinking.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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