WASHINGTON. Apple’s stock (symbol: AAPL) has been making a strong comeback in the last month or so of trading. That’s a happy turn of events for holders of the stock who watched their shares tank in Q4 2018 due to lower-than-expected sales of the company’s new iPhones. The reason for today’s jump in Apple shares? The company announced the introduction of its new and improved 2019 iPad Air and iPad mini lines. Both products were badly in need of some marketing excitement. Now it’s here.
New iPad Air and iPad Mini features
Apple’s new iPad Air and iPad Mini models both offer keyboard support for the very first time. Additionally, they’re ready to work with the Apple Pencil. Customers can order both iPad versions beginning Monday – today – and they’ll be in Apple stores and other retail outlets sometime next week.
Aside from offering more flexibility, both the new iPad Air and iPad mini lines also boast new and improved cameras. Notable features include better performance in low light environments plus newly advanced sensors that are said to be capable of augmented reality experiences.
More down-to-earth improvements regular iPad users will appreciate include noticeably longer battery life. But at the same time, Apple claims the new iPads also work faster and longer than older models. That’s double plus good for customers with a need for speed.
Apple’s public release
Apple’s public release unpacks key technical improvements in both new iPads.
“Apple today introduced the all-new iPad Air in an ultra-thin 10.5-inch design, offering the latest innovations including Apple Pencil support and high-end performance at a breakthrough price. With the A12 Bionic chip with Apple’s Neural Engine, the new iPad Air delivers a 70 percent boost in performance and twice the graphics capability, and the advanced Retina display with True Tone technology is nearly 20 percent larger with over half a million more pixels.
“Apple today also introduced the new 7.9-inch iPad mini, a major upgrade for iPad mini fans who love a compact, ultra-portable design packed with the latest technology. With the A12 Bionic chip, the new iPad mini is a powerful multi-tasking machine, delivering three times the performance and nine times faster graphics. The advanced Retina display with True Tone technology and wide color support is 25 percent brighter and has the highest pixel density of any iPad, delivering an immersive visual experience in any setting. And with Apple Pencil1 support, the new iPad mini is the perfect take-anywhere notepad for sketching and jotting down thoughts on the go.”
Apple continues to sell its basic 9.7 inch iPad, though the company announced no improvements to that model. The company still prices the basic 9.7 inch model at $329.
Pricing and availability in the US
More info from Apple’s public release announcement.
“The new iPad mini and iPad Air come in silver, space gray and gold finishes in 64GB and 256GB configurations. The new iPad mini starts at $399 (US) for the Wi-Fi model and $529 (US) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model and the 10.5-inch iPad Air starts at $499 (US) for the Wi-Fi model and $629 (US) for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model from apple.com, in the Apple Store app and Apple Stores, and is also available through Apple Authorized Resellers and select carriers (prices may vary).
“Apple Pencil (1st generation) is available for purchase separately for $99 (US). The Smart Keyboard for the 10.5-inch iPad Air is available for purchase separately for $159 (US) with layouts for over 30 languages, including simplified Chinese, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.”
At last, Apple’s long rumored video streaming service may be right around the corner
Unrelated to the iPad Air and iPad mini announcements, Apple provided a further tease promoting its upcoming Apple Event, slated for Monday, March 25. Analysts expect Apple to finally announce the availability of its long-expected new video streaming service. The company hopes its service will compete with offerings from Netflix (NFLX), Amazon (AMZN) and others in this crowded field.
Clearly, the company is pinning its future more and more on its online stores and upcoming streaming services. After years of enviable profits on its popular iPhone models, the company watched sales of those devices flatten in 2018.
In addition, some resistance appears to have arisen among Apple fans, given the ever-higher price points for each new iPhone. This offers evidence that the smartphone market is saturated or nearly so. At least in Western markets.
Can Apple avoid becoming a seller of commodity products?
Throughout the history of tech products, once a tech product reaches a saturation point, its product line becomes commoditized. Such products can remain for years as reliable cash cows for a company. But they no longer offer the rapid growth spurts that growth-seeking investors crave. This often results in plateauing or decreasing profits, causing growth and momentum investors to sell their shares and head elsewhere.
Apple hopes its business plan, increasingly dependent on user services, can help its shares evade the dreaded “value stock” label.
– Headline image: Apple.com splash page announcing new iPad models, via the company’s website.