Rumor Roundup

What to expect from Apple’s ‘iPad mini’ event today.

With only hours to go before Apple’s special event kicks off in San Jose, Calif., here’s a collection of the latest news and rumors about the “iPad mini,” 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, and other products said to be in Apple’s pipeline.

The highlight of Tuesday’s event is expected to be a new 7.85-inch iPad, which is said to have a display resolution of 1,024 by 768 and will run existing iPad applications. The device is expected to lower the barrier to entry for the iPad lineup, undercutting the $399 iPad 2 that currently serves as Apple’s entry-level model down to $299 as the new base price.

Like the existing 9.7-inch iPad, the smaller model is expected to have forward- and rear-facing cameras, as well as a thinner bezel on the sides that would allow the device to be more easily operated with one hand. A leaked battery picture has shown a 16.7 watt-hour battery, while the display is expected to have the same aspect ratio as the full-size iPad. It’s also anticipated that the new Lightning connector found on the iPhone 5 and latest iPods will be featured on the iPad mini.

The Lightning connector may also make an appearance in an updated third-generation iPad with Retina display, if some rumors prove accurate. While a mid-cycle product refresh would be uncharacteristic for Apple, a handful of new photos have suggested the current iPad could receive the minor revision.

Last week, a leaked product list suggested that Apple plans to announce 12 different configurations of iPad models, each of which are expected to be available in two colors. Four models — described as P101, P103, P105 and P107 were ranked as “good,” “better” and “best.”

The expected launch date for the iPad mini is Friday, November 2nd, which is less than two weeks after today’s event. But the iPad won’t be the only product line to receive stage time if rumors are to be believed.

Apple is also said to be planning to unveil a 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display. Last week, images claiming to show the final product were leaked online, featuring two Thunderbolt ports, an SD card reader and an HDMI output.

iTunes & iBooks
First announced by Apple in September, the newly redesigned iTunes software for Mac and PC is scheduled to arrive in late October. That means it’s likely that the software could arrive as soon as Tuesday, following Apple’s keynote. iTunes 11 features a redesigned interface that hints at new concepts that Apple could roll in its OS X platform like a redesigned mini player and tighter iCloud integration.

Finally, word also leaked this past weekend was that Apple is planning to release a major update for its iBooks application for iPad and iPhone. It’s expected that Apple plans to use iBooks 3.0 along with the new iPad mini to push sales of the lower priced device to education buyers.

The education market is said by people familiar with Apple’s plans to be a major focus at Tuesday’s event. Apple has also recently tweaked its education sales force to emphasize iPads, as they offer a lower entry price to budget conscious schools than the company’s Mac lineup.

So many rumors, so little time….
With the PC market rapidly cooling off and stalling, Apple is positioning it’s products, new and old, for maximum holiday sales. It will be interesting to see where the dust has settled come January 1, 2013.

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