SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Apple on Thursday (March 10) sent out invitations to a press event at which it is expected to unveil new iPhone and iPad models.
In keeping with its practice, Apple revealed little about the event other than it will take place on March 21 at the company's campus in the Silicon Valley city of Cupertino in California. A message on copies of the invitations posted online simply states "Let us loop you in."
Rumours have been circulating for weeks that Apple is poised to introduce upgraded versions of its small-screen iPhone and of the iPad, with the new tablet perhaps tailored for use by businesses. A four-inch screen iPhone that looks similar to the iPhone 5s on the outside but boasts improvements under the hood is expected to get the spotlight at the event, along with an iPad with a screen measuring slightly less than 10 inches diagonally. The iPad may have keyboard and stylus features aimed at making it more attractive for getting work done. Apple has been trying to ignite sales of its tablets, which declined in the final quarter of last year.
Apple has partnered with IBM on iPad applications for use on the job, and Microsoft has tailored versions of its productivity software for the tablet. The press event later this month is also expected to feature fashionable new bands for Apple Watch. Apple has not publicly released sales figures for its Apple Watch, but the International Data Corporation (IDC) estimated the company sold 11.6 million of the wearable computing devices last year. That gave the California giant a market share of around 15 per cent, even though its smartwatch sales began in June of last year.
The media event will come a day before Apple faces off with the FBI in federal court in Southern California over whether the company can be compelled to help break into a locked iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers. Digital rights activists warn that the issue provides little middle ground - that once law enforcement gains a "back door," there would be no way to close it. But FBI Director James Comey told a congressional panel that some answers are needed because "there are times when law enforcement saves our lives, rescues our children."