iPad Event: A 'Most Important iPad Refresh'

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Tuesday, Apple ( AAPL) is holding its iPad event to refresh the company's second-largest driver of revenue, behind the iPhone. It could be the company's most important iPad-centric event since the original iPad was announced, according to one analyst.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White, who rates shares "buy" with a $777 price target, notes that the iPad update could help refresh iPad sales. "We believe this iPad launch will help put a bottom in the iPad sales cycle that reached negative territory in 3Q:FY13 for the first time in the history of the iPad," White wrote in his note. He is expecting that Apple will unveil the fifth-generation of the 9.7-inch iPad, and an updated second-generation of the iPad mini. He also believes that Apple will update the MacBook Pro, and give more detail about its desktop operating system, named OS X Mavericks.

In Apple's fiscal third-quarter, the company sold 14.6 million iPads, compared to 17 million in the year-ago quarter. The company released a new iPad in March 2012, accounting for some of the falloff. In the second-quarter of 2013, Apple sold 19.5 million iPads, so it's clear that iPad sales are bumpy, and a product refresh would go a long way toward putting it back on growth, from a units sold perspective.

According to research firm IDC, Apple continued to lose tablet market share to competitors, including Samsung, which runs Google's ( GOOG) Android operating system. Apple had 32.4% of the tablet market for the second-quarter, compared to 60.3% in the year-ago quarter.

Conversely, Samsung had 18% of the tablet market, up from 7.6% in the year ago quarter. Rounding out the top five in tablet sales were ACER, Lenovo and Asus, which makes Google's Nexus tablets.

The iPad still accounts for a large chunk of Apple's revenue. In the fiscal third-quarter, iPad's accounted for $6.37 billion of Apple's $35.3 billion in quarterly revenue.

White believes the fifth-generation iPad will have a slimmer, thinner design, taking its new design from its smaller sibling, the iPad mini. "We believe the iPad 5 will be approximately 15% thinner than the iPad 4 and we estimate at least 20-30% lighter," White notes. He also believes it will be 7% to 10% smaller than its predecessor, and come in Apple's new color scheme which it incorporated into the iPhone 5s: space gray, gold and silver.

As far as the iPad mini is concerned, White is expecting a smaller upgrade to the form factor. "Given our recent trip to Asia, our research suggests that the iPad mini 2 form factor will remain similar to the original iPad mini. We expect only incremental upgrades to the iPad mini 2 this week."

Rumors have continued to suggest that iPad mini will get Retina Display, Apple's higher pixel density screen. It's also possible that the iPad mini will also come in the aforementioned color schemes, with leaked images making their way around the Web of a gold iPad mini.

Shares of Apple were higher in pre-market trading, gaining 0.78% to $512.85.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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