four iPad mini retina display

KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo is out with a new research note this weekend, offering predictions on Apple’s tablet plans for the next two years. The analyst, who has a strong track record in tech predictions, believes that 2014 will be the year of the iPad Air.

Kuo sees Apple updating the full-sized iPad this year with an A8 processor, Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and possibly a few other improvements. But as for a new iPad mini and the oft-rumored 12.9-inch iPad “pro,” he believes we wont see them until 2015…

MacRumors has Kuo’s research note:

“Compared with lower-margin iPad mini with Retina display, which shipments has been tepid, higher-margin iPad Air was a hot selling item in 4Q13, which will slow Apple in developing new iPad mini models. We believe Apple plans to launch upgraded iPad Air early this year, and will accelerate development of 12.9” iPad. As such, more resources will be allocated to these two products, which will affect the progress of the development of new iPad mini. All told, we think chances of the debut of a new iPad mini in 2H14 are slim. In addition, the 12.9” iPad is unlikely to be offered in 2014. For these reasons, we predict the only new iPad product in 2H14 will be the upgraded iPad Air.”

This is the first time we’ve heard anyone suggest that Apple won’t be refreshing the iPad mini this year. And Kuo’s theory that the 12.9-inch iPad won’t launch until 2015 also contradicts with multiple reports, which pointed to a late 2014 introduction for the ‘pro’ tablet.

12_9_ipad_macbook_air-800x450concept by  CiccareseDesign

So why delay these two products? Well Kuo believes that Apple will be focusing all of its resources on its smartwatch project this year, which he is still expecting to launch this fall. The company is also said to be preparing big updates for its iPhone and Apple TV lines.

This being said, the analyst is anticipating the eventual release of a 12.9-inch iPad. He thinks the larger tablet will fuel more interactive apps and games, and increase professional sales. Previous reports have suggested it could be aimed at enterprise or education.

Rounding out his predictions, Kuo backs the recent claim that Apple plans to wind down iPad 2 production soon, as sales begin to taper off. And he believes they’ll replace it by restarting mass production of the iPad 4, which has a Retina display and Lightning connector.

There are some interesting theories here, and Kuo’s usually pretty good with this stuff. What do you think about his predictions?