KGI Securities Ming-Chi Kuo is a reliable source when it comes to all things Apple, and he has had many predictions in the past that have turned out to be true. As always, he’s back with more predictions for this Fall, and gives us insight into what Apple customers and fans can expect from our favorite fruit company.
First on the list is the iPhone. He believes the iPhone will be dubbed the iPhone 5S and will emerge in September, although he believes late September is the time we can expect the next-generation iPhone. This means that Apple’s announcement will come some two weeks before Apple starts shipping its iPhone – implying that the company is somewhat behind in iPhone 5S production. The often-controversial rumor site DigiTimes has made claims that the increased screen size and fingerprint sensor may be to blame for slowed production, and Kuo agrees. The new components are posing a challenge to Apple and its manufacturers, as can be expected. iPhone 5S copies should improve in their numbers by October, in time for the Christmas season in December.
Next on the list is the budget iPhone or plastic iPhone. According to Kuo, the budget or plastic iPhone is easier to manufacture and will be released in early September. Against Kuo’s predictions, however, Apple wants a net profit of some $250-$300 for the device, placing the price tag at $450-$550 without a contract agreement. The new prices for the plastic iPhone mimic iPad prices (a 16GB iPad 4 is currently $499, a 32GB iPad 4 is $599), but will benefit those who want more memory storage.
I think Apple is using the new plastic iPhone to bring customers into its retail stores. It will certainly benefit GSM carriers such as AT&T and T-Mobile, since users can pay more affordable prices than ever for great phone service. I have a contract with US Cellular, and pay nearly three times as much as my prepaid, T-Mobile service ($137-$150 vs. $50, respectively).
The services that US Cellular charges you for individually (voice and texting at $87 + Wi-Fi hotspot at $50) are offered together with T-Mobile for $50 total. Even though I don’t have the Internet coverage with T-Mobile that I would like to have (I live on 2G EDGE), I can still use my voice and texting services and don’t need Internet that much when I travel.
Keep in mind that the plastic or budget iPhone has the price range of unlocked smartphones (that is, phones that are not tied to one carrier). In an indirect sort of way, Apple is looking to bypass carriers with this new smartphone – since you would pay your entire phone price to Apple and not a cent to the carrier.
At the same time, however, I think the asking price of $450-$550 is a little steep (although Apple prices its products in an expensive manner at times). The asking price should be no more than $400-$500 (maximum) for the price of the phone, so that customers can purchase protective cases and other accessories while in Apple stores. If Tim Cook wants to win over Apple customers and get them back into Apple retail, this may just be the way to do it.
As for the large iPad, the iPad 5 will emerge this Fall, on schedule, and will mimic the iPad Mini’s appearance for its own. This means that there will be a slimmer edge-to-edge bezel than the current iPad 4 (which was slimmed down from its predecessor, the Retina iPad 3).
Finally, there stands the iPad Mini. Just a few days ago, a report circulated the web that said LG Electronics had gotten on top of the Retina iPad Mini displays and would manufacture them for Apple’s announcement in October. Ming-Chi Kuo believes, however, that there will be no new iPad Mini produced later this year. The reason? Apple may choose to leave a non-retina iPad Mini on display to add to its current iPad Mini profits, while showering all its love on the large iPad.
One problem last year pertained to the cannibalization of large iPad sales, the result of the more portable mini tablet. Since Apple investors have a very reserved confidence in Apple these days, the result of its stock price drop over the last year, Apple needs to market the large iPad so that it can garner an extra $170 on each large iPad over its smaller tablet brother.
With that said, do not despair: Kuo believes Apple will launch two new iPad Minis next year, a Retina model and a non-Retina model (for those who do not care for Retina and would be content with a more affordable model). The non-Retina model will use the A5 chip that was used in the original iPad Mini, while the Retina model may receive the A5X chip that was used to build the large iPad 3 (the first large iPad to boast a Retina display).
We do not know what Apple has to say about the matter, but Kuo has been right about many things in the past.
What do you think? Can we expect an iPad Mini this year, or do you think we will have to wait until 2014? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.