Apple’s 2014 in Rumors: Big Changes for Mac and a Sharper iPad

A newly-designed 12-inch laptop could sport a Retina display, according to an analyst with a good track record.

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We’ve written before about KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s track record with Apple rumors. He’s one of the rare analysts whose Apple predictions are accurate most of the time, so it’s worth paying attention when Kuo says what to expect from Apple in 2014.

As relayed by 9to5Mac, Kuo’s latest research note talks about a big shift for the Mac product line, plus a sharper display on the next iPad.

Here’s a rundown:

  • A new type of MacBook is reportedly on the way, with a 12-inch Retina display. Kuo says it’ll be thinner and lighter than a MacBook Air, with a new design and an Intel chip. There’s no word on what would become of the MacBook Air, but it’s hard to imagine the product line sticking around if Apple launches a more portable MacBook with a higher-resolution display. We may find out in the second or third quarter of next year.
  • New iMacs will be cheaper, Kuo says, to better compete with Windows desktop PCs. Apple redesigned its all-in-one desktop computer in 2012, and bumped up the specs last month, but sales have reportedly been lower than expected. Given that the current iMacs start at $1,300; could Apple be trying to hit the $1,000 mark?
  • The sixth-generation iPad will have the same 9.7-inch screen size as its predecessors, but with a 30- to 40-percent higher pixel density, according to Kuo. This rumor is the hardest to believe. Apple uses the term “Retina” for screen resolutions where you can’t see individual pixels at normal viewing distances, so an even sharper display¬†would create more work for developers without much of a real-world benefit.¬†The only way a higher-resolution screen makes sense is if Apple is plotting ahead for an eventual larger iPad, which Kuo says isn’t happening next year.

Kuo’s predictions are best considered as rough estimates for what we’ll see from Apple, which is a lot more than you can say for some other analysts. Just for kicks, let’s check on what Kuo predicted back in January:

  • iPhone 5s with same design, faster processor, improved camera, smart LED flash and fingerprint reader: Yup.
  • Cheaper iPhone similar to the iPhone 5, but with a plastic enclosure and six colors: Just one color too many.
  • No Retina display for MacBook Air, but new Intel chips with a focus on battery life: Spot-on.
  • Slimmer and lighter iPad, and iPad Mini with Retina display: To be determined, but both seem likely.
  • Death of the non-Retina MacBook Pro: Not yet, but we’ll see if Apple updates the product line this month.
  • No Apple television this year: Pretty much guaranteed at this point.

It’s worth noting that Kuo’s latest report doesn’t issue any predictions on the next iPhone, a larger iPhone, the oft-rumored Apple television or a wearable device. Perhaps the details are still in the air or otherwise too hard to forecast, but it’s better to have a small number of likely Apple rumors than a whole bunch of unreliable ones.