Analyst: iPad Upgrades Coming Before April

Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster says he is seeing trends that lead him to believe Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is likely to host a major product event before the end of April. According to the analyst, the event could possibly see the introduction of redesigned iPads.

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“We believe that looking at the history of time between Apple product launch events suggests that the company will introduce something new in March or April,” Munster writes in a note for clients on Friday. “Over the past two years, the spring event has been iPad updates.”

Apple introduced the iPad mini in October, while also making minor upgrades to its full-sized tablet. However, Munster believes this new event could result in design changes to the full-sized iPad so its form was closer to that of the iPad mini. In turn, the smaller tablet will get a new, high-resolution screen, but that will possibly come later.

“We believe Apple could update the full-sized iPad to a body style similar to the iPad mini,” he writes. “Additionally, we believe that the iPad Mini could get a Retina display, although that may happen later in the year given the supply constraints Apple faced on the Mini in the December quarter.”

According to Munster, combing through several years of Apple events leads him to conclude that the average time between product announcements has been 123 days, or about 4 months. The longest period of time between events since the iPhone 3GS launch in 2009 was 216 days, or about 7 months, which was the gap between the iPad 2 launch in March 2011 and the iPhone 4S launch in October 2011…

Given Apple’s last event was on October 23, 2012, a new one has to be around the corner, Munster believes.

Following this, in the next another six months, the company may update the Apple TV set-top box with better software and an App Store, the analyst writes. This would be in preparation of the launch of a full-fledged television set.

“We would expect to see an Apple TV update in the next six months if Apple plans to launch a television by the end of the year, which we still expect,” Munster writes. “We believe the updated Apple TV software could ‘prime the pump’ for the ultimate television.”

While Jefferies analyst Peter Misek earlier in the week also predicted an Apple TV software event in March, The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple, a known company insider, shot the idea down.

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