Next to the iPhone, the iPad ranks second among Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) most important product lines. iPad sales account for approximately 20% of the company's revenue. The Mac ranks lower, at about 12.5% of revenue. The iPad segment is crucial to Apple's business, and for more reasons than its share of revenue. On that note, it's time for a brief rumor roundup of Apple's upcoming iPad refresh.
The importance of the iPad
Apple CEO Tim Cook loves to talk about Apple's dominance in tablets -- especially in the areas of usage. "People are using our products substantially more than anyone else's," Cook boasted at the Worldwide Developers Conference's opening keynote on June 10. "If you look at iPads compared to all other tablets, it's not even comparable -- iPad is over four times more."
Furthermore, Apple's tablets also account for a larger share of the tablet market than the iPhone does in the smartphone market. According to IDC, Apple's share of the tablet market in the first quarter of 2013 was 39.6%, compared with a 17.3% share of the smartphone market. Though Apple's share in tablets is notably lower than it was in the year-ago quarter, Apple still leads the tablet market.
Finally, Apple's iPad segment is is currently its fastest-growing segment. iPad revenue in Apple's second quarter was up almost 40% from the year-ago quarter. Comparatively, iPhone revenue was up just 3%.
These are just a few of the reasons the iPad is so important for Apple investors. That's why Apple's next move in the tablet market will be an important one.
So what might Apple have up its sleeve?
About the only consistent rumor about Apple's next refresh of its iPad lineup is that the iPad 5 will take cues from the iPad Mini. For instance, most rumors suggest that the new iPad will be narrower, thinner, and lighter than the iPad 4, taking on the same beveled edges of its smaller counterpart.
But it doesn't take an insider tip to make an assumption like this. The iPad would seem out of place if it didn't eventually take on some of the hardware features from the newest addition to the family.
Though the rumors should be taken with a grain of salt, here are a few other circulating rumors about the upcoming refresh of the iPad line.The full-sized iPad 5 will begin full production in July (Digitimes). The iPad 5 could launch as early as September (again, Digitimes). Apple will launch a new iPad Mini later this year, but without a Retina display (DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim).
Apple investors will definitely be happy to see changes to the iPad's form factor. Though, as the rumors suggest, investors probably already expect considerable change in this area. Even more, investors are probably already expecting an iPad refresh later this year; it was last October that Apple introduced the iPad Mini and refreshed its full-sized iPad -- and Apple tends to refresh its iPhone and iPad line once a year.
All in all, these rumors don't really tell us much -- but at least they suggest Apple is on schedule with its second most important product line.
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