New iPads may deliver hefty costs
APPLE will deliver its first major iPad redesign in more than a year next week but rumours suggest the new products could come with hidden costs.
The tech giant, which will unveil new devices at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York early on Thursday, is all but confirmed to change the plug on its tablet computer for the first time in six years, in a move experts say is likely to create "teething problems" for users.
The issue could sting particularly hard in Australia, where consumers are expected to buy more than 1.5 million iPads this year, and the changes could be felt even harder if Apple extends the new system to future iPhones.
Long-time technology analyst Ming-Chi Kuo first tipped the iPad's move from Apple's Lightning connection, introduced in 2012, to a standard USB-C plug last month.
But Mr Kuo's predictions have seemingly been confirmed by accessory manufacturers at the Global Sources Mobile Electronics Trade Fair in Hong Kong, and further fuelled by Apple's decision to issue a USB-C charger for its smartwatch for the first time.
If Apple does make the change, its iPads will be able to connect directly to a 4K computer monitor, and they will use the same charger as recent MacBook computers and most modern Google Android smartphones, including models from rival Samsung.
Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said changing the way users connect to iPads would be a major overhaul, and one that will "challenge" owners who have invested heavily in cables, docks, and accessories for current iPads.
"There might be teething problems when a new connector comes out," he said.
"For those who have a number of iPad accessories and cables for the old system, there'll be big changes."
The transition is likely to have a bigger impact in Australia than elsewhere as Mr Fadaghi said "our tablet penetration is among the highest in the world," with tablet sales exceeding purchases in both the US and the UK.
"This year, we forecast the iPad to exceed 1.5 million sales in Australia, or about half the total 3 million tablet sales," he said.
Apple currently sells USB-C cables on its website for $59, meaning the swap to the new system could come at a sizeable cost for iPad users who want more than one charger.
The cost would grow significantly, however, if Apple extended the charger change to its iPhones, which made up 47 per cent of all smartphones sold in Australia in the first half of this year, according to Telyste.
Mr Fadaghi said despite initial inconvenience, moving to a USB-C connection would deliver new features to the iPad, and enterprising accessory makers would likely issue adaptors to cash in on the transition.
Apple's iPad announcement, at which it's also expected to unveil new MacBook computers, will begin at 1am AEDST next Thursday.