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Is iPad coming to Apple’s Q3 rescue?

Apple yesterday announced their latest financial results and a shot in the arm is needed…

iPad about to save Apple

The new iPad can’t come a moment too soon for Apple.

That’s not me simply jotting down wild speculation – the figures are there in black & white for all to see in yesterday’s Q2 2024 Earnings Call.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to play the doom-mongers game, the results were still very healthy and Apple has plenty to be upbeat about. In the second fiscal quarter, Apple posted a profit of $23.6 billion on $90.8 billion in revenue. Any company would be pretty OK with those kinds of numbers, no?

But you can bet that Apple will be keeping an eye on the macros of the numbers and looking at areas that they can improve – and iPad is certainly one of those ‘troublesome’ categories.

Apple in numbers

New product releases often result in an upturn in sales – and so it was with Mac numbers in Q2.

The M3 MacBook Air was released in this period and Mac sales saw growth reaching $7.5 billion which represents a 4% growth on the same period last year.

Wearables sales suffered for the same reason that Mac sales grew – there were no new products in this quarter. Last year Apple released the USB-C AirPods Pro in Q2 but with no new HomePods, AirPods or Apple Watches so far this year sales were down 10% to $7.9 billion – which even the Apple execs on stage admitted were “difficult” figures.

Services have been the silent star of Apple for a good while now – and they continue to be the golden ticket for the company. That sector set an all-time record of $23.9 billion in revenue. They saw the potential of services such as Fitness, News and the solid, return regular revenue they attracted years back – and as is so often the way, they were proven right.

iPhone sales we knew weren’t setting the world alight with iPhone 15 having not caught the imagination of the masses this past year. iPhone sales slumped by 10% – but the knight in white armour is possibly about to enter the arena next Tuesday…

Is this iPads moment?

In this latest set of figures iPad numbers made for sore eyes.

Sales of the tablet continued to dip by 17% year-on-year and only brought in $5.6 billion in sales. Quite apart from the fact that the iPad range has become bloated and confusing the figures directly related to the fact that there have been no new iPads since late 2022 and the fairly lame iPad 10th Generation.

At next week’s Let Loose event though we are expecting iPad to be given the spotlight as it’s due to be given its biggest and most thorough makeover since 2018 – the iPad Pro that many still think of as being its finest hour.

Apple is pinning much on this iPad – not just for sales figures but it is also likely to be toted as the first AI-driven device from the company. In yesterday’s call, Apple CEO ‌Tim Cook‌ said Apple is about to make “an exciting product announcement that customers will love.” He went on to say;

“Apple is making significant investments in AI, and it has some “very exciting things to share with customers soon. We have advantages that will differentiate us from the competition including Apple’s hardware and software integration, Apple silicon with Neural Engine, and our focus on privacy. There’s a big opportunity for generative AI across all of Apple’s devices, and we are extremely optimistic about future consumer demand”

For what is expected to be a fairly swift pre-recorded video event next Tuesday, much is expected from it. Being only a few days out from the event it’s probably worth re-capping what all the hullabaloo is about – what are we expecting from iPad next week and how it may save the day…

About to be let loose

I guess the headline is that for the first time, both iPad Pros will use the same screen technology.

Until now the 11-inch & 12.9-inch tablets used different screens. Currently, the smaller iPad has an LCD backlit panel, while its larger brother has a Liquid Retina XDR display. Now though, both the 11-inch and the new even larger 13-inch tablets are expected to use LTPO OLED screens. Scaling up OLED to iPad size has not proven an easy ask for suppliers – and even now we are hearing that on release the 11-inch model may be in short supply due to light leak issues.

Using the OLED technology has another bonus too – these iPad Pros will be the thinnest Apple devices ever – shaving 1mm off to be only 5mm thick! Is that too thin for such a large tablet? You’d think Apple would have tested that pretty exhaustively to make certain that another Bend-gate isn’t around the corner.

Last week the bombshell dropped that the iPad Pro may well be lining up to get Apple silicon M4 – bypassing M3 altogether. The M4 chip is set to have a much higher core count and has been developed specifically to handle the AI features that Cook alluded to. If M4 silicon does end up in these new iPad Pros then a speed increase of up to 40% can be expected with the Pros being touted as AI powerhouses.

I wrote the other day about why it makes sense for Apple to release an M4 iPad now just a month before WWDC. This way they can stand on stage and talk about stunning new AI features that are available to use now on a device that we can lay our hands on and not have to wait until the fall and the release of iPadOS 18.

A case of a bird in the hand – or in this case an iPad in the hand…

The company will hope that customers will be tripping over themselves to try out Apple’s AI features for themselves – which in turn should spike iPad sales in the next Q3 Earnings Call.

There’s more

As if that weren’t enough – and in normal device refreshes that would be ample – there is more to come.

The camera is anticipated to finally be placed on the long edge and a new Apple Pencil is likely to emerge also. This iteration will have haptic feedback for the first time, support gestures and possibly even have interchangeable magnetic tips – aiming it squarely at creatives. It may even be compatible with the Vision Pro. Given the artwork invite the new pencil is almost a given.

The new Magic Keyboard is looking pretty special. The facing part of it, where your hand rests, is speculated to be aluminium – resembling a MacBook and it’ll have a larger trackpad too.

A row of function keys is rumoured to have been added to the keyboard – but if function keys are added will that mean the iconic cantilevered design will have to be changed to facilitate them I wonder? The new Magic Keyboard may also house the new pencil in its hinge to store and charge it.

And all I’ve written about here is the iPad Pros – we are also expecting two new iPad Airs to surface at the same time.

Not long now

All will be revealed in just a few days.

Tuesday 7th May at 3 pm British Summer Time which is 7 AM Pacific Time we’ll know exactly what we are dealing with and potentially what Apple’s AI future is going to look like.

These iPad Pros are not likely to be cheap and I’m bracing myself for an expensive week ahead. But having never owned an iPad Pro I’m super-excited to finally be getting one. I’ll be front of the queue at Battersea collecting mine – hopefully, next Friday.

Whenever they are in-store though you’ll get to read about my thoughts and experiences here.

Is iPad about to shine?

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