Apple's iPad refresh on deck: iPad mini Retina supplies likely tight

Apple's second big product launch in two months is on tap and all eyes are on the iPad mini and how the company prices the current one.

Apple's media powwow on October 22 in San Francisco is likely to feature an iPad update — potentially an iPad mini with Retina Display — and MacBook Pro featuring Intel's latest processors as well as new smart covers.

More importantly for Wall Street analysts, Apple's event on Tuesday will provide investors and fans with a product roadmap for the rest of the year. Until Apple pushed its latest iPhones last month, the company had largely been silent.


Some analysts are even hoping that an Apple TV SDK may be announced to set the stage for this near mythical iTV that would in theory justify a $1 trillion market value someday.

Previously:  Apple to reveal new iPads, MacBooks at October 22 event: Here's what we know so far  |  For Apple's new iPad, it's (r)evolution, baby  |  What I'm expecting from the 'iPad 5'

Here's what analysts are betting on:

The no brainers...

An iPad mini with Retina Display that will be available in theory in the December quarter, but supplies will be really tight. Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said in a research note:

Our checks indicate that the mini Retina is having production issues but think Apple is more likely to launch in [calendar fourth-quarter 2013] with fewer units than delay it to [calendar first-quarter 2014].

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Misek is also figuring that the iPad mini Retina will go for $329 and the current iPad mini will run $229 to $279. Those price points are likely to do some damage in the low-end tablet market, which is where Android shines.

Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes said that Apple is likely to ship a iPad mini Retina later in the quarter. "We expect that there will be some major product constraints for the new retina display mini upon the initial launch of the product, and wouldn't be surprised if it was shipping later in the quarter," said Reitzes.

A 9.7 inch iPad that's thinner and lighter: Toss in some smart covers that may make the larger iPad more of a laptop replacement. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has noted in surveys that the majority of iPhone buyers who plan on upgrading their iPads are going for the smaller version.

New covers for the iPad: Reitzes said covers are critical to Apple profit margins and the company is likely to unveil colorful covers with an integrated keyboard being a long shot.

MacBook Pro updates with Intel's new Haswell chips: With Intel's latest processors, the MacBook Pro battery life will greatly improve. A release data for OS X Mavericks to go with the MacBook Pro is also highly likely.

The reaches...

iTV hints: Misek said that Apple could introduce an Apple TV software development kit. This SDK would create apps for Apple TV, but the real stepping stone would be for an eventual iTV.

Hints about the iWatch: Analysts are hoping for an iWatch launch in 2014 and noted that Angela Ahrendts, hired away to Apple from Burberry, focused on watch retailing at Burberry.

The outcomes...

Apple dominates low-end tablet market: Should Apple's non-Retina iPad mini be priced in that $229 to $279 band it's likely to be gobbled up, according to Misek. In the December quarter, Misek projects that Apple would sell more than 5 million iPad mini Retina devices, 15 million iPad mini non-Retina units and 7 million 9.7 inch iPads.

Enterprise adoption of iPad ramps more: Should Apple move to a 64-bit architecture for the iPad with a fingerprint sensor, the enterprise use cases are likely to balloon. Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore said:

We believe the combination of added security and 64-bit will facilitate greater enterprise uptake of iPads over the coming years and increasingly cannibalize corporate notebooks.