iPhone 6 Release Will Kill iPad Air, iPad Mini as Analysts Grim on 2014 Tablet Prospects

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By Erik Pineda | May 13, 2014 4:20 PM EST

The iPhone 6 release date happening soon this 2014 normally excites but a new report offers another side of the narrative - that Apple's rumoured oversized smartphone could prove as the real iPad killer.

REUTERS/Robert Galbraith
Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retnia display during an Apple event in San Francisco, California October 22, 2013.

In a new report, Katy Huberty of Morgan Stanley painted a not so rosy picture of the overall tablet market in 2014. Growth in the area will suffer a huge retreat, the analyst said, prompting her to downgrade the sub-market's expansion prospect from 26 per cent to mere 12 per cent.

There will be no alarming contractions, to be clear, but the growth slow down creates ripples of nervousness that even the tablet king, Apple that is as the iPad manufacturer, is not immune.

In the March 2014 quarter, the tech giant posted total iPad sales of only 16.4 million units, falling short of a previously adjusted guidance - going south - of over 19 million units.

The dipping sales numbers is across the board and according to Morgan Stanley, supply chain players in Asia are pointing to things for the stalled growth. First is the absence of compelling innovations that would convince tablet users to upgrade.

The second is the direct result of the first factor - slow adoption of new models as iOS and Android slate owners hold on much longer to their units. Huberty explained too that the impressive tablet market growth in the past is partly to blame.

There was an increased penetration then but that is hardly the case now as Huberty noted that "few suppliers were able to communicate a credible argument for a growth re-acceleration this year."

It appears as well that the trend will hurt Apple more. "Android appears to be faring better than iOS tablets on the back of lower price points and broader product portfolios," Huberty told Business Insider.

But really the threat from the inside is graver, BGR said in a report, adding that while Android tablets are definitely chipping away significant market shares from the iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 with Retina, an upcoming iOS device could prove as the real iPad killer.

The iPhone 6, rumoured for a late Q3 2014 release, could effectively cannibalised Apple's iPad business with the first wave of impact set to be absorbed by the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3.

Citing the latest figures from research firm Canalys, BGR reported that sales 5-inch plus smartphones will explode by 360 per cent in 2014. Allegedly sporting a 5.5-inch screen profile, the iPhone 6 phablet belongs to the same class of upsized mobile phones.

The larger iPhone 6, Huberty said, will outsell its smaller 4.7-inch sibling and is well expected to perform much better than its iPad cousins.

In the long run, in fact, it is not remote to see that the tablet market, and Apple's iPad business for that matter, "could ... become a low-margin, low-growth business," added the same BGR report.

So the much-anticipated iPad killer this year is not the Nexus 8.9, not even any of the Galaxy tablet variants from Samsung but the very device designed and manufactured by Apple - the iPhone 6.

This happening will be proven later in the year, likely in the following months of the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 release date - tentatively set in October 2014.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith / )
Apple Inc CEO Tim Cook speaks about the new iPad Air and the iPad mini with Retnia display during an Apple event in San Francisco, California October 22, 2013.
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