Next month the forecast calls for lots of Apples raining down on the tech world, with the introduction of a new iPhone, iPad, OS X Yosemite desktop/laptop operating system, iOS 8 mobile operating system, the iWatch or similar wearable device, and probably a surprise or two preceded by the iconic phrase "one more thing."
Not much has been said to date about hardware changes to the iPad Air, or iPad Air 2 if that's what it will be named. Most of the changes planned for a new iPad Air will be contained in new iOS 8 software that will offer major enhancements over iOS 7.
Hardware upgrades are thought to be limited to a faster processor, better/larger battery, lighter weight, maybe a peripheral port or two, and improved cameras front and back. The adoption of the iPhone 5s' Touch ID home button is also anticipated.
But there are reports the new iPad Air is already under construction, and the new model will have "anti-reflective coating" on the display, reducing glare and making the screen easier to read for both images and text, especially in bright ambient lighting conditions.
Apple may be rushing the new iPad Air into the fray as a reaction to staleness in the iPad market, which has seen two consecutive quarters of sales decline. Sales in the most recent quarter fell to 13.2 million iPad units, a decrease of 8 percent from the same time last year.
There are several likely reasons for the tail-off in sales, beginning with more-numerous, high-quality competitive products hitting the market. Tablets from Samsung, Amazon and others offer similar or superior screen resolution, screen size, user-expandable storage and the ability to connect USB devices through on-board ports.
Devices such as Microsoft's new Surface Pro 3 tablet/laptop hybrid has convinced some buyers to go that route, although the Surface Pro 3 does not align with the iPad Air as much as it does with the MacBook Pro laptop.
But the most common reason given for the loss of iPad sales is the emergence of the "phablet," a mobile smartphone with a near-tablet-sized screen, that is eclipsing the largest percentage of iPad Air sales.
Apple will also address the fall-off in iPad Air sales by possibly developing an iPad Air Pro, a larger-screened, more business- and enterprise-oriented tablet that will be marketed primarily through IBM. The ability to use IBM's business capabilities, particularly in security and enterprise software competency, to launch the iPad Air into the enterprise market was a primary consideration for Apple when it decided to take on IBM as a partner.