Apple sets Oct. 16 event, with new iPad, Macs likely

A month after unveiling new iPhones and the Apple Watch, Apple will host another product launch -- and the invite intriguingly says "it's been way too long."

Shara Tibken Former managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
Shara Tibken
3 min read

Apple has invited reporters to an event on its campus on October 16. It's expected to unveil new iPads and Macs. Screenshot by Shara Tibken/CNET

It's iPad time.

Apple on Wednesday sent out invitations to an October 16 press event on its campus in Cupertino, Calif. It's widely expected to unveil new iPad tablets and Mac computers, as well as talk about its new Mac operating system software.

The event comes about a month after Apple showed off its newest iPhones and its first wearable, the Apple Watch. CEO Tim Cook introduced the products during a splashy, star-studded event at the Flint Performing Arts Center, down the road from its headquarters. That venue, at De Anza College, was the same place former CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the first Macintosh computer in 1984, and guests such as band U2 helped Apple usher in its latest products.

This time around, Apple has opted to hold its event in the Town Hall Auditorium at its headquarters -- a much smaller venue than those used for some other recent launches. It showed off the iPad Air, iPad Mini with Retina Display and Mac Pro last year at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater in San Francisco. The year before, Apple held two iPad events, one in October at the California Theatre in San Jose, Calif., and one in March at the Yerba Buena Center.

Apple's shares were little changed at $99.56 in recent trading, up 0.8 percent.

Apple this year is expected to show off new iPads and its Mac OS X Yosemite software for computers, which the company revealed at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Apple also could introduce new Mac computers, including new iMacs. Recent reports say the iPad could include a gold option, as well as the Touch ID fingerprint sensor found on iPhones since last year's 5S.

Apple's iPad, first released in 2010, changed the computing market and spawned scores of copycat devices. Even Microsoft, Apple's longtime rival in the PC market, produced a tablet, introducing the Surface in 2012. Since unveiling the iPad, Apple has dominated the tablet market, most recently ranking No. 1 with 27 percent tablet share globally. The iPad is Apple's second-biggest moneymaker after the iPhone, with about 15 percent of total revenue coming from the tablet.

But the company now needs to find a way to revitalize iPad sales. Apple's tablet hasn't been selling as well as it used to. Sales of the iPad have declined year-over-year and fallen short of analyst expectations for two straight quarters. In the period ended June 28, Apple sold 13.3 million iPads, down 9 percent from the previous year and below the 14.4 million expected by analysts. Apple has attributed the weak iPad sales to a couple of factors -- softer demand and an issue with the number of devices held in channel inventory (which means they're either sitting in stores or on trucks).

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In reality, Apple likely has been hurt by a few factors that could continue to plague iPad sales. It's easy for people, when they upgrade, to pass older tablets to relatives or friends. People also don't have the two-year upgrade incentive they get from wireless carriers when it comes to smartphones, and Apple hasn't made big enough changes to the iPad to compel even its most ardent fans to immediately buy the newest model.

In addition, most people who crave a tablet likely already have one, and Apple is going up against dozens of new, inexpensive devices that run Google's rival Android mobile operating system. Consumers also now have the option to buy iPhones with bigger screens, such as the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, rather than buying one of Apple's iPads -- which currently come in 9.7-inch models for the iPad Air and 7.9-inch models for the iPad Mini.

Cook said in July that he's "bullish" about Apple's prospects in the tablet market. "We still feel the category as a whole is in its early days, and there's still significant innovation that can be brought to the iPad, and we can do that," he said.

Cook expects Apple's new partnership with IBM, announced in mid July, to boost iPad sales. Already, most of the Fortune 500 companies use Apple products, but there are still a lot of ways the company could generate more money from business users. Apple and IBM will work together on pushing Apple devices and iOS apps with business users, and IBM's cloud computing services -- such as device management, security and analytics -- will be optimized for iOS.

Tune back to CNET for full coverage of Apple's upcoming event.