Q3 Tablet Shipments Up 11% to 54M, Samsung Closing In On Apple’s iPads

ipad-glare-compare Tablets — once thought of as the great disruptor to PC sales with their lighter form factor and cheaper price — continue to grow in sales, but at a far slower pace than in quarters past. IDC today published its Q3 numbers for tablet sales, and its analysts estimate that globally there were just under 54 million tablets shipped — 53.8 million to be exact — working out… Read More


Apple SIM Included With iPad for Customer Convenience, but iPhone Not Likely to Join In

Apple had the consumer in mind when it added a multi-carrier SIM card to its new iPads, said Apple vice president of iPhone, iPod and iOS product marketing Greg Joswiak in a recent Re/code interview (via Fierce Wireless). But that motivation does not mean the Apple SIM will be making its way to the iPhone any time soon, as Joswiak noted most consumers go directly to their carriers to buy iPhones, while the iPad more often is sold through Apple’s retail channels.

“It’s about the customer experience,” he said during an appearance here at Re/code’s Code/Mobile conference. “We ultimately don’t know who you are going to use as the carrier, [and] we want to make it as easy as possible.”

Joswiak said Apple has not discussed putting the Apple SIM into iPhones, but said that because of the way most customers buy an iPhone–through a carrier directly–the Apple SIM is not as well suited. “I don’t think you’re going to go to the Verizon store and say, ‘Can you hook me up with AT&T?,'” he said.

With most iPhone customers committed to their carriers for a significant period of time, either through contracts subsidizing the phone cost or through payment plans, multi-carrier SIM cards make less sense for iPhones.

Apple’s new universal SIM in theory allows customers to activate with one carrier and then switch to another carrier as needed, but there are some limitations. The Apple SIM is currently only compatible with AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and UK carrier EE. Verizon confirmed that is not adopting Apple’s new SIM, instead requiring customers to activate with a Verizon-specific SIM.

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In addition, while AT&T is listed as a compatible carrier, the provider is not fully supporting all the features of the SIM. Apple and AT&T have confirmed the carrier is not allowing its customers to switch once the Apple SIM has been activated on AT&T’s network, instead opting to lock the SIM to its network following activation. Customers who activate service on AT&T will thus have to purchase a new SIM if they want to use their tablet with another carrier.

Apple introduced the new iPad Air 2 and Retina iPad mini 3 earlier this month with sales beginning last week. Both tablets feature a universal SIM, Touch ID, and storage options of 16, 64 and 128GB. The iPad Air 2 also includes a new A8X processor, antireflective display and 2GB of RAM. The iPad Air 2 retails at a starting price of $499, while the iPad mini 3 costs $399 for the base model.




iPad Air 2 Material Costs Hold Steady Starting at $275, but New Storage Tiers Erode Profit Margin

As it always does with Apple’s major new iOS devices, research firm IHS iSuppli has torn down the new iPad Air 2 in an attempt to estimate Apple’s component costs for the device (via Re/code). According to IHS iSuppli’s estimates, the 16 GB iPad Air 2 costs Apple roughly $275 to build, just one dollar more than last year’s iPad Air.

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The report unsurprisingly points out that Apple benefits from stronger profit margins as users move to higher capacity models, with Apple paying only about $50 more for 128 GB of storage compared to the base 16 GB configuration while charging users $200 for the upgrade. Still, Apple’s move to eliminate the 32 GB option and slide the 64 GB and 128 GB models down $100 has slightly eroded Apple’s profit margins at the top end.

The latest report from the research firm IHS, due later today and shared exclusively with Re/code, shows that the base model of the iPad Air 2, the 16-GB Wi-Fi version, which sells for a price of $499, costs $275 to build, exactly one dollar higher than the previous base model. The top-end model, the 128-GB LTE version costs which sells for $829 costs $358.

Apple’s implied profit margin on the iPad Air 2 has dropped slightly to a range for 45 percent to 57 percent depending on the device, compared with the original at 45 percent to 61 percent.

Many of the components have remained the same between the iPad Air and the iPad Air 2, with Apple’s use of essentially the same display unit allowing the company to reduce costs of that component from $90 to $77. But with Apple’s move to bond the display to the device’s cover glass and the addition of a new antireflective coating, the same display offers a significantly better user experience.

Other changes include the move to a powerful new A8X chip currently unique to the iPad Air 2, and improved cameras that have resulted in slightly higher component costs.

As always, it is important to note the estimates from IHS iSuppli cover only the cost of the individual components that make up the device and do not include other costs involved in product development, manufacturing, and sales, such as research and development, software, patent licenses, marketing, and distribution expenditures. All of these costs contribute to significantly reduce Apple’s true profit margin from the levels cited by IHS, but the basic component cost remains an interesting glimpse at how Apple brings everything together to consistently hit its retail pricing goals.





Apple’s ConnectED Program Participation Brings Macs, iPads And More To Underserved Schools

empowering_2_large Apple’s $100 million commitment to President Obama’s ConnectED program has resulted in Macs, Apple TV, and iPads being introduced to 114 schools, the bulk of which cater to students who qualify for free or discount lunch programs, meaning the investment is overwhelmingly going to school boards that wouldn’t necessarily be able to supply their own Macs or iPads for teachers… Read More


iPad Air 2 Display Praised for Antireflective Coating, but iPad Mini 3 Display Still Lags

ipad_air_2_mini_3With the iPad Air 2, one of Apple’s main selling points has been the improved display, which includes a new bonded construction that eliminates the air gap between the display and the cover glass, as well as a new antireflective coating to reduce glare in situations with high ambient light.

Ray Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies has now put the new display to the test, finding that the antireflective coating is indeed a significant improvement for the iPad and a major step above competing tablets, but in overall performance competitors are still doing better than the iPad. Apple receives only minimal credit for the bonded display, as it is mainly catching up with competitors on that aspect.

A major innovation for the iPad Air 2 (that is not fully appreciated) is an anti-reflection coating on the cover glass that reduces ambient light reflections by about 3:1 over most other Tablets and Smartphones (including the previous iPads), and about 2:1 over all of the very best competing Tablets and Smartphones (including the new iPhone 6). [...]

However, other than the new anti-reflection coating and bonded cover glass, the display on the iPad Air 2 is essentially unchanged and identical in performance to the iPad 4 introduced in 2012, and is actually slightly lower in performance than the original iPad Air (for example 8% lower Brightness and 16% lower display Power Efficiency) – most likely the result of an obsession with producing a thinner Tablet forcing compromises in the LCD backlight.

With competitors such as Samsung, Amazon, and Microsoft offering better color accuracy, viewing angles, and power efficiency, Soneira finds the improvements in the iPad Air 2 insufficient to move the device to the top of his tablet display rankings, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S retains its number one position.

Moving on to the iPad mini 3, Soneira unsurprisingly finds that the display is unchanged from the one used in the previous generation, unsurprising given that Apple kept the specs of the iPad mini identical with the exception of the Touch ID home button and a gold color option. Soneira notes the unchanged display is a “major disappointment”, as the iPad mini 2’s display has been rated poorly for color gamut and accuracy.

In 2013 the mini was given a Retina display, but remained with a reduced 62 percent Color Gamut – the only current iPad or iPhone without a full Color Gamut. Now, in 2014 the new iPad mini 3 still only has a 62 percent Color Gamut, plus it was denied the new enhanced anti-reflection coating and bonded cover glass of the iPad Air 2.

Soneira again points to competitors offering higher-quality displays on their tablets, concluding that the iPad mini 3 is “embarrassingly mediocre and way overpriced” considering its $399 starting price tag and significantly poorer display performance compared to both competitors and the iPad Air 2.

Full details on Soneira’s testing of the new displays are available in his extensive report.




Buyer’s Guide: Discounts on Original iPad Air, iPad Mini 2, and Apple Accessories [Mac Blog]

Now that Apple’s iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 are available, retailers have been offering discounts on the original iPad Air and the iPad mini 2.

There are quite a few deals on previous-generation higher capacity cellular and Wi-Fi iPads, and this week also sees some discounts on remaining 2013 Retina MacBook Pro inventory and deals on some Apple accessories.

iPad Air

The Wi-Fi only 64GB iPad Air in Space Gray can be purchased for $499 from Best Buy, as can the 64GB Silver Wi-Fi model. The Wi-Fi only 128GB iPad Air in Silver can be purchased from B&H Photo for $599, or from Best Buy for $699. Best Buy also has the 128GB iPad Air in Space Gray for $699.

Several sites are also offering deals on the higher-capacity Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad Air models. The 64GB Cellular iPad Air in Silver from AT&T is available for $599 from Adorama. The 64GB Cellular iPad Air in Space Gray from AT&T is also available for $599, from B&H Photo.

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Verizon models are slightly more expensive, with both the 64GB Silver Cellular iPad and 64GB Space Gray iPad available for $629 from Best Buy.

The 128GB Cellular iPad Air in Silver from AT&T is available for $829.99 from Best Buy and the 128GB Space Gray AT&T Cellular iPad is also available for $829.99 from Best Buy.

128GB models from Verizon are priced similarly, with the 128GB Silver version available from Best Buy for $829.99 and the Space Gray version available for $729 from B&H Photo.

iPad mini 2

Higher-capacity iPad mini 2 models are also available at steep discounts, and these iPads are a particularly good deal as the only difference between the mini 2 and the mini 3 is Touch ID and a gold color option.

The 64GB Wi-Fi only iPad mini 2 in Silver is available for $399 from Best Buy. The Space Gray Wi-Fi only iPad mini 2 is also available for $399 from Best Buy.

The 128GB Wi-Fi only iPad mini 2 in Silver is available for $499 from Best Buy, while the Space Gray version is available for $499 from Best Buy.

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The 64GB AT&T Cellular iPad mini 2 in Silver is available for $529.99 from Best Buy as is the Space Gray model.

64GB Verizon Cellular iPad mini 2 models in Silver are available for $529.99 from Best Buy and the Space Gray model is available from Best Buy for the same price.

The 128GB Cellular AT&T iPad mini 2 in Silver is available for $629 from Amazon and Adorama. The AT&T Space Gray model in 128GB is also available for $629 from Amazon and Adorama.

The 128GB Cellular Verizon iPad mini 2 in Space Gray is available for $629 from Best Buy and Adorama. The 128GB Cellular Verizon iPad mini in Silver is available for $787.99 from Best Buy.

Fourth-generation iPad

Best Buy is selling the now-discontinued fourth-generation Wi-Fi only iPad in both Silver and Space Gray for $299.99.

Retina MacBook Pro

There are a few deals 2014 Retina MacBook Pro this week. The 2.6GHz/8GB/128GB 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is available for $1,199.99 from Adorama and B&H Photo. The 13-inch 2.6GHz/8GB/256GB model is available for $1,399 from Adorama and B&H Photo. The high-end 2.6GHz/8GB/512GB 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is on sale for $1,699.99 from Adorama and B&H Photo, a savings of $100.

There are some deals on remaining 2013 Retina MacBook Pros. The 2.4GHz/4GB/128GB 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is available for $1,099 from Adorama and B&H Photo. The 2.4GHz/8GB/256 13-inch model is available for $1,279 from Adorama. The 2.6GHz/8GB/512GB 13-inch model is available for $1,549 from Adorama and B&H Photo.

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The 2.0GHz/8GB/256GB 15-inch model is available for $1,599 Amazon, Adorama, and B&H Photo. The 2.0GHz/16GB/512GB 15-inch model is available for $2,199 from Amazon, Adorama, and B&H Photo.

The non-Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro is also on sale for $949.99 from Best Buy and $999.99 from Adorama, and B&H Photo.

Apple Accessories

The Sony Portable Bluetooth Speaker with Lightning Dock is available for $169 from Groupon, down from its original price of $249. LivingSocial has a deal on the Jawbone Jambox speaker, offering it for $89.

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StackSocial is offering the “Mac to the Future” bundle for $29.99, which includes $961 worth of Mac software programs like Fantastical and Ember.

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The Jarv Run BT Bluetooth Smart Heart Rate Monitor is available for $28.95 from Amazon. Groupon is selling the Kensington PowerBolt Apple Car Charger for $9.99 and StackSocial has Nintendo iPhone 6 and 6 Plus cases for $14.

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The Kensington Portafolio Soft Folio Case for Apple iPad mini is available for $14.99 from Groupon, and the Logitech iPad mini Folio is available for $20 off at Best Buy.

MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors.