Apple on Monday silently announced the new versions of the iPad Air and iPad mini, the company’s first product refresh for those products in years.
Typically, Apple creates hype around the arrival of new hardware. But this year’s focus was on upcoming spring press event to be on its rumored streaming service. So, the company let the world know about its new iPads in a press release.
The iPad Air comes with a bigger 10.5-inch display (starting at $499), and the iPad mini has the same 7.9-inch screen (starting at $399). These devices support the firs-gen Apple Pencil and a 12 Bionic processor to boot.
The iPad mini will mostly serve as an entertainment device, most likely to target students and teenager demographic, while the lightweight iPad Air replaces the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.
The iPads don’t offer any revolutionary experiences and probably won’t move the needle too much in terms of sales. However, they may appeal to consumers looking to adopt some of the functionality of a higher-end iPad Pro, according to.
“What they have done, specifically the iPad Air, is adopt technology like the Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil, which used to be exclusive to the iPad Pro,” Ben Stanton, a senior analyst at Canalys said. “Now that iPad Pro has been redesigned with slim bezels and rounded-edges, its previous exclusive features can trickle down to cheaper price points. This is especially savvy of Apple because it stands to benefit from greater revenue from accessories as products like Smart Keyboard and Apple Pencil become more accessible.”
Apple was widely anticipated to tease the iPads ahead of its spring event on March 25, signifying the company is more open to unveiling non-critical hardware updates without so much spectacle.
“Apple wants to get the iPad out of the way so it can hold its first event truly focused on streaming,” Lauren Guenveur, senior research analyst told. “If Apple announced new Pads, it would turn into a hardware event, and that’s not what it wants.”
Tablet shipments have seen a decline over the past few years, especially among devices that don’t come with a keyboard. “Perhaps what’s the point for having an event for a declining category?” Guenveur added.
Guenveur be certain of the new 10.5-inch iPad Air could struggle to find a place in the market considering the 11-inch iPad Pro is still a more powerful option that also supports the pencil. The iPad Mini, however, could push a decent amount of people to upgrade.
“There is certainly a market for the iPad Mini, especially among students and teens, but I don’t know for how long the upgrade cycle for it will be,’ Guenveur concluded. “I suspect it will do very well for one large upgrade cycle for the rest of the year and then slowly drop off.”