Apple gives aging Macs, iPad Pros an update
Apple Inc (AAPL.O) refreshed some of its lower-profile products at a New York event on Tuesday, adding iPhone features like facial recognition to the iPad Pro and faster processors and better displays to some Mac computers that have not had a major update in years.
The Cupertino, California, company introduced new versions of the iPad Pro, its higher-end tablet that competes with Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Surface, with thinner bezels and more screen space, along with the face unlock system found on Apple’s newer iPhones.
Apple said a new version of the Mac Book Air, originally released in 2011, would feature a higher-resolution display and thinner bezels and start at $1,199, hitting stores on Nov. 7.
The company also said the Mac Mini, a small desktop customers provide their own display and accessories for, would feature more processing power and memory capacity and start at $799.
Apple introduced new iPhones and Apple Watches last month, but the older product lines accounted for $45 billion in sales in the most recent fiscal quarter. In comparison, iPhones brought in revenue of $141.3 billion.
“They really wanted to show the world they haven’t forgotten about the iPad and the Mac,” said Mika Kitagawa, a senior principal research analyst at Gartner.
The Mac lineup has been in need of a boost.
In July when Apple reported its most recent quarter, the company had its worst quarter of Mac sales since 2010, with unit volumes down 13 percent year over year. And iPad unit sales were up only 1 percent versus a year earlier, and revenue for both was down 5 percent from the prior year.
But some of that dip in Mac sales was explained by timing – Apple waited to release new Macs until July, when it had in previous years offered them in June. More broadly, Mac sales growth has outpaced the PC market and the iPad has been the most successful tablet in a market that turned out to be smaller than Apple hoped when it released the device in 2010.
While Apple has held prices down on some items like its entry-level iPads for schools, analyst had widely expected it to hold or raise prices for its new laptops and desktop.
With Mac laptops in particular, consumers increasingly use phones or tablets for quick tasks and only turn to a full-fledged computer when they need extra horsepower. Apple is unlikely to cut corners to drop the price of its entry-level laptops, analysts had said.
“With Apple, ‘cheap’ is always more expensive than everybody else,” said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies. Apple is likely to pick a price where “you don’t feel like you’re breaking the bank, but you don’t feel like you’re compromising your experience.”
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