Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) loves the holiday season: In 2011, the Black Friday and Christmas sales helped Apple enjoy its most profitable quarter ever, claiming $13.1 billion in profit and $46.33 billion overall; in 2012, the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer company hopes to recreate that magic this holiday season by releasing a second wave of new, ultra-smart, ultra-competitive products in late-October.
It would’ve been enough to release a new iPhone and a family of new iPods, but Apple must not have been satisfied with just one fall announcement. Just a month after the company unveiled the iPhone 5 and the newly redesigned iPod Touch and Nano, Apple will reportedly introduce a handful of new iOS and Mac products at its scheduled media event on Tuesday in San Jose, Calif., including a newly updated iPad “3,” a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, a completely redesigned iMac, a newly-updated Mac Mini, and finally, an all-new 7.85-inch iPad Mini.
We’ve been following the news, rumors and patent filings surrounding each of these products, filtering the untrustworthy news from the more believable sources, just to give you an idea of what you can expect from tomorrow’s event before it happens. The event, by the way, will take place at the California Theatre in San Jose, Calif., and start at approximately 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. The invitation’s single tagline said, “We’ve got a little more to show you.”
Here’s a brief synopsis of what we’re expecting Apple to show us on Tuesday:
iPad Mini: Take the world's most popular tablet, and hit it with a shrink gun. Make it light, make it thin, thin out its side bezels and shoot down that $499 price tag, too, and that's exactly what officials, experts and analysts believe Apple will release tomorrow morning.
On July 10, a photo set of the alleged iPad Mini suggested the mini tablet would be much wider and a little taller than the Nexus 7, Google's 7-inch tablet, and it would be slightly thinner than Apple's third-generation "new" iPad. Gotta Be Mobile believes the iPad Mini will measure about 213.36mm tall and 143.67mm wide, which is "approximately two-thirds of the size of the new third-generation iPad." (The new iPad is 185.67mm wide, 241.3mm tall, and 9.39mm thick.)
Rather than try to give the iPad Mini’s display a 16:9 aspect ratio like the newly released iPhone 5, Apple has reportedly decided to preserve the 4:3 aspect ratio of the iPad. Most believe Apple's iPad Mini display will stretch 7.85 inches; Apple Insider claims more precise measurements, saying the iPad Mini's display will measure 6.38 inches (162 mm) long, 4.88 inches (124 mm) wide, and nearly 8 inches across diagonally. In all likelihood, the iPad Mini will boast Apple's branded liquid crystal Retina Displays -- high-density screens where the individual pixels cannot be discerned with the naked eye -- but some say the iPad Mini may also feature an indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) display made by Sharp Inc. Sharp's IZGO displays can be fitted for extremely thin hardware devices and can reportedly handle 330 ppi, which would be incredible since the new iPad can only achieve 264 ppi.
We haven't seen many reports on the processor that will drive the activities on the new iPad Mini, but we presume Apple will either use the same dual-core A5X chip with quad-core graphics used to power the new iPad's display -- this is most likely -- or it will jump-start the iPad Mini with which may be unveiled in the new iPhone, too. That said, if Apple did put a quad-core A6 processor in the new iPhone, it would be unlikely to also appear in the new iPad. These chips have not yet been proven or popularized yet, and that Apple would be taking a very big chance on a relatively untested chip. Apple loves to push the limits, but only with reason. Pushing the A6 like this would be a little too crazy, even for "the crazy ones."
The iPad Mini will almost definitely feature a Retina Display-quality screen, front and rear cameras (for FaceTime and iSight, respectively), the all-new A6 chip, and the new Lightning dock connector (like the iPhone 5). Read more about the iPad Mini’s rumored features here.
Refreshed New iPad "3": Apple is expected to give its new iPad, which was released earlier this year in March, a minor refresh at its scheduled event on Tuesday. Apple.Pro, a site with a fairly reliable track record, posted a photo on Oct. 20 with what appears to be a tweaked third-generation iPad -- the only noticeable difference is the connector. Gone is the 30-pin hole at the bottom of the tablet, which is replaced with the significantly smaller and thinner 8-pin Lightning dock. Whether or not Apple decided to endow its newly refreshed iPad with updated internals, like a faster A6 processor, remains to be seen.
Redesigned 21.5-Inch iMac: On a WeiPhone.com forum thread, a user who claimed to have a brother-in-law working in Foxconn building the new Mac computers said the iMac has been completely redesigned, and from side to side, you “almost cannot see the new iMac’s thickness.” The user, who also posted photos of the new 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro (see below), compared the iMac to a drop of water with “tetragonal” elements, even though the computer still has that trademark “chin” below its giant display.
“My uncle has seen the fully assembled iMac but recently unable to take a picture of it,” the WeiPhone user wrote in a separate post. “If he did take the picture, I will update this thread.”
The poster also noted that the display has been completely redesigned, which could mean the new iMac has a Retina Display. The poster said the display is a “very pretty special glass glued directly” to the computer, rather than a display manufactured separately from the machine, but the poster did not mention the words “Retina” in his post.
“The new iMac is using a special ‘glue’ to glue the display to the frame and is facing very strict quality control,” the poster said. “Products from Foxconn is having a lot of issues. In this case, after the glue dried, there will be minor air gaps.”
According to an old benchmark from Geekbench makers Primate Labs, the new iMac, described as “iMac 13,2” internally, reportedly runs on a 3.4 GHz Core i7-3770 quad-core processor with 4GB of 1600 MHz RAM, and run on OS X Mountain Lion. In August, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released his own product launch schedule, pegging the release of a new iMac in mid-October.
13-inch Retina MacBook Pro: Before Apple shocked the WWDC audience with a completely redesigned 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display in June, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted Apple would unveil such a notebook, and he even correctly forecast most of the features, including a lighter and slimmer form factor than the current MacBook Pros, the lack of a disc drive, and the Retina Display.
After WWDC saw the release of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, Kuo followed up on his earlier report by sharing a new note with AppleInsider, in which he described how Apple would follow up the 15-inch model with a smaller, 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, to be released in early October. Kuo had actually mentioned the 13-inch model in his initial report, adding that the basic computer would sell at $1,199. Apple starts selling the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display at $2,199.
Giving credence to these rumors, the WeiPhone.com user, who also detailed information about the new iMacs (see above), posted cell phone images of alleged iMac parts coming off the line at Foxconn on one of WeiPhone.com’s forum, mentioning a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro was currently in production.
“Apple will improve on the production technique in D2 line,” the poster wrote, referencing the 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro as the D2 to its younger sibling, internally dubbed D1.
“Apple will launch the 13-inch rmbp. Ghosting and thermal issues will be fixed but internals and design will be similar to 15-inch rmbp,” the poster said.
The 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is expected to have the same general design and infrastructure as the 15-inch model, but be sold at a slightly lower price point, likely below the $2,000 sweet spot for desktop computer users. 9 to 5 Mac reported on Oct. 19 that Apple will most likely price its entry-level 13-inch Retina MacBook around $1,699 – about $500 more than the non-Retina model. If Apple sells two 13-inch Retina varieties at 2.3GHz and 2.6GHz, like its 15-inch model, a high-end 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro could cost up to $2,299.
New Mac Mini: Apple’s smallest Mac desktop computer will reportedly get a refresh at the company’s event on Tuesday. The computer, which is shaped like the sleek Apple TV, will reportedly receive faster processors, new ports and updated components – and possibly even a lower price tag, too, according to 9 to 5 Mac.
Apple currently sells its Mac Mini in two configurations – 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz with 2GB and 4GB of memory – for $599 and $799 respectively. The computers are compatible with HDMI, USB 2.0, Gigabit Ethernet, FireWire 800 and Thunderbolt, but Apple will most likely update these ports, likely adding USB 3.0 connectivity. The Intel Core chips that power the Mac Mini will also likely get new components, or possibly be switched out with Apple’s all-new A6 chip, which is small, custom-built and extremely powerful.
iTunes 11: Eddy Cue, Apple’s SVP of Internet software, told a packed auditorium on Sept. 12 that a brand-new version of iTunes – iTunes 11 – would be released in late October; sounds like it’s going to be released just in time for the new iPad Mini event.
Jeff Robbin, Apple’s VP of consumer applications, showed off iTunes 11 at Apple’s iPhone event on Sept. 12.
“We’ve got a beautiful new edge-to-edge design where you can really focus on your music,” Robbin said. “When you click on your album, it expands in place and iTunes automatically analyzes the album cover to provide this beautiful themed experience.”
The redesign makes album artwork more beautiful and navigation substantially easier and more seamless, with easier playlist manipulation, new features like “Up Next,” and an all-new mini player with built-in search and playlists. In addition, like the App and iTunes Stores on the iOS platform, Apple has redesigned the iTunes Store for the Mac and PC to appear more like the popular iOS stores.
“The new iTunes will be available in late October,” Cue said. “We think you’re going to love it, and we can’t wait for you to get your hands on it.”
Apple has not specified a release date for iTunes 11, but the company will likely take this Oct. 23 event as an opportunity to launch the new music platform. In all likelihood, Apple will release the new service before the iPad Mini is released, probably by the end of the week on Friday, Oct. 26.
What’s On Your Wish List?
Would you buy any of these products Apple reportedly plans to sell? Are you disappointed there isn’t anything else on there, like an Apple-branded TV or all-new software? Give us your feedback in the comments section at the bottom of the page.