updated 05:03 am EDT, Sun October 13, 2013
Ming-Chi Kuo has strong reputation for predictions, but not flawless
An analyst with KGI Securities who has a strong track record of correctly predicting forthcoming Apple products and revisions says that Apple is working on a 12-inch model MacBook product with a high-resolution Retina-type display, a future sixth-generation iPad with an even higher screen-pixel count than the current Retina display and a "budget" iMac model. None of the predicted products would debut until sometime next year.
Ming-Chi Kuo has a strong -- but not perfect -- record of guessing (or getting insider information) on forthcoming Apple moves. He correctly predicted the company would retire the 17-inch MacBook Pro, AppleInsider reports, and nailed the company's 2012 fall product lineup as well as revealed details of the iPhone 5s and 5c many months in advance. His 2013 product schedule prediction, made in January, has been less accurate (chart below) but still partially correct.
It must be said that the prediction of a future iPad isn't exactly psychic. Apple updates the tablet yearly, and is naturally already at work on the successor to the forthcoming iPad 5, now expected to be revealed on October 22. As demonstrated by the iPhone 5c, the company also looks for ways to reduce manufacturing costs on various products -- so the idea of a lower-cost iMac isn't that much of a stretch either. Kuo believes the current iMacs are selling less well than expected because the price is too high -- the basic model starts at $1,299 -- prompting the company to design a "budget" model to boost Mac sales outside the US.
The concept that Apple would launch what appears to be a replacement of the 11-inch MacBook Air with something in a "ultra-slim clamshell form factor" but with a slightly larger and Retina-quality screen that will (to quote Kuo) "redefine laptop computing once again following the milestone created by the MacBook Air" is more original and certainly within the realm of possibility. Kuo told investors in a note that he does not believe Apple will transition this new 12-inch MacBook product to run on the A-series in-house processors that power the company's iOS devices, and instead said it would use a traditional Intel CPU.
He believes the sixth-generation iPad will launch in "late 2014," likely meaning about a year from now as wold be expected -- but will offer up to 40 percent more pixels than the current Retina-quality display. Contrary to some rumors, Kuo doesn't think Apple is preparing a 12-inch iPad model. He reiterated his prediction that the forthcoming second-generation iPad mini (again expected to debut later this month) would have a Retina-quality display, and that Apple is already at work on a third-gen model for 2014 (which, Kuo says, will have the same resolution as the second-gen model).
The analyst didn't reveal details on projected timetables, or explain what technology might be used to accomplish the Retina-style MacBook product or the better-than-Retina iPad 6 and keep the price affordable. Kuo did mention that he expects Parade Technology, Apple's main DisplayPort partner will continue to be the sole supplier for the technology in 2014, adding that thinks the standardization of DisplayPort on other devices means the technology will play a "key role" in the company's 2014 products -- a possible reference to a future Apple-branded TV product beyond its current Apple TV.