Apple Readies New iPads And M3 MacBook Air To Combat Sales Slump

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Apple Inc., seeking to reverse a decline in Mac and iPad sales, is preparing several new models and upgrades for early next year, according to people familiar with the situation.

The effort includes updating the iPad Air, iPad Pro and MacBook Air, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the products haven’t been announced. The new iPad Air will come in two sizes for the first time, and the Pro model will get OLED screens — short for organic light-emitting diode. The MacBook Air, meanwhile, will feature the speedier M3 processor.

The Mac and iPad account for 15% of Apple’s revenue combined, and they’ve been particularly hard hit by a decline in consumer tech spending. The iPad slump has been compounded by a lack of new models. In fact, 2023 will be the first calendar year in the product’s history when no new versions were released.

There have been Mac releases in the past year, but that market faces a broader pullback in computers following a boom in pandemic spending. Mac sales tumbled 34% last quarter to $7.61 billion, while iPad revenue dropped 10% to $6.44 billion. They also make up a smaller portion of Apple’s total sales these days, with services — once a negligible contributor — now accounting for a much larger piece.

Apple is looking to the new models to help reinvigorate demand next year. The iPads and accessories are expected to launch around the end of March — alongside iPadOS 17.4 — according to the people familiar with the plans. The Macs are being developed alongside macOS 14.3. That software update is likely to be released between the end of January and February, but the hardware may not ship until the March timeframe.

It’s not unusual for Apple to hold launch events for the Mac and iPad around March. A spokeswoman for the Cupertino, California-based company declined to comment on the company’s plans.

The iPad Air, which is the company’s mid-tier tablet, currently comes with a 10.9-inch screen. For next year’s release, the company will add a version that’s about 12.9 inches, matching the size of what’s currently the biggest iPad Pro. The company is readying four models — codenamed J507, J508, J537 and J538 — that will offer Wi-Fi-only and cellular versions of both sizes.

The additional screen size for the iPad Air is part of a strategy to offer more options at different prices. It lets consumers get a larger display without having to pay for the iPad Pro, which costs several hundred dollars more. This approach mirrors Apple’s strategy with the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

The new Pro models are currently scheduled to be announced at the same time as the iPad Air. The OLED screens show a wide range of colors and will give the company’s tablets the same display technology used in the iPhone since 2017. The high-end tablet will get the M3 chip that was introduced with the MacBook Pro in October.

The company is planning four new iPad Pro models, codenamed J717, J718, J720 and J721, with roughly 11-inch and 13-inch screen sizes and both Wi-Fi-only and cellular configurations.

Apple’s new iPad Pro will mark the first overhaul to the product since the current design was introduced in 2018. The company had previously made smaller changes to the line, including bringing over chips from Macs and adding new cameras. These pricier tablets — which can top $2,000 with the highest storage capacity — are a key part of Apple’s bid to bring in more revenue from the iPad.

The company is also preparing revamped versions of Apple Pencil and Magic Keyboard accessories, which it will sell alongside the new iPad Pro. The new pencil — codenamed B532 — will represent the third generation of the product. The company released a new low-end model in November.

The new Magic Keyboards — codenamed R418 and R428 — will make the iPad Pro look more like a laptop and include a sturdier frame with aluminum. The latest MacBook Airs — codenamed J613 and J615 — will continue to come in 13-inch and 15-inch sizes. The main focus there will be the addition of the M3 chip.

Beyond those product lines, Apple also plans to release its Vision Pro headset early next year. For later in 2024, it’s working on an updated Apple Watch with blood pressure sensing and a refresh to the iPad mini. There will be a new low-end iPad and larger upscale iPhones, as well as revamped low-end and mid-tier AirPods that add a USB-C port.

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