When Apple gave their keynote for the annual iPad event a couple weeks back, it only took them two minutes to introduce the new iPad mini 3, explain its features, and then transition on to their next point.

Two minutes.

By comparison, the iPad Air 2 (which many argued – and I agree – is the only new iPad from that keynote) took up around an hour of stage time.

If it isn’t already obvious, let me spell it out: Apple doesn’t care about the iPad mini anymore.

And that’s okay – in fact, they shouldn’t, for a number of reasons I’m going to list down below.

But if they don’t care about the iPad mini anymore, the very least they should do is kill the product line, and not have to force themselves to produce more iterations of what is, in essence, the same old iPad mini.

The first reason why they should kill the iPad mini product line is obvious: Apple’s current iPad line is too bloated. There are too many variations, too many options and too many price points. It’s confusing for the consumers. Before, whenever one wants to buy an iPad, they only had to decide what size they wanted, and what color. Now, they have to decide which iPad they want, looking at this chart (screenshot taken directly from Apple.com):

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 10.48.47 pm

It’s ridiculous.

Worse still, since Apple forces themselves to produce new iPads every year (which in my opinion, they shouldn’t since iPads are more like Macs than iPhones – there’s no need to change them every year if they still work, since the work people are going to do on it are most probably non-essential), the product line is only going to get more and more saturated.

At this point, they’re producing something new for the sake of it being new.

Not better, just newer.

If you wonder what that looks like in reality, look no further than the iPad mini 3 they just released: when compared to the version Apple released a year ago, the only new additions are the Touch ID sensor and a gold color option. Nothing else. And it’s supposed to be a “new” product.

The need to produce a new iPad mini (or new iPads, for that matter) every year is, I’d argue, a huge distraction. Why not produce something great every two years instead of something mediocrely improved every year?

It shows a shocking lack of focus within Apple’s culture.

But putting that (rather major) annoyance aside, there’s huge reason why Apple should kill the iPad mini line: they no longer need it.

When Apple introduced the very first iPad mini, there was a clear reason why: people wanted it, and Apple had to fend off the competition from lower-priced and smaller Android tablets. The iPad mini was there to save the day: it gave those who wanted a smaller, but lower-priced iPad the chance to get one.

However!

Apple no longer have those reasons now.

The number of people who (when looking to buy a small tablet) choose Android has been declining rapidly. In fact, the numbers are so tiny that it shouldn’t make a company like Apple worry at all.

What about those who want a small tablet running iOS?

Well, there’s the iPhone 6 Plus!

The iPhone 6 Plus’ screen isn’t all that smaller than the iPad mini’s, thus making the iPad mini (which people get mainly because of the screen size and the convenience that comes with it) a redundant product line.

So the way that I see it right now, Apple’s only got two options: if they really want to keep the iPad mini product line alive, they shouldn’t force themselves to produce a new iPad mini every year. Release one every two years or so – when they’ve come up with something truly amazing and presumably worth more than two minutes of stage time.

The alternative is to, of course, just kill the whole iPad mini line from their product lineup. If Apple choses to go down this path, the backlash with Apple’s fan base will undoubtedly be huge. But since the margins on the iPad mini are razor thin, the move will most probably make their shareholders happy.

Apple should really consider doing either one of the above.

Either that, or the next iPad mini will be met with the same unsatisfactory and lackluster reaction the iPad mini 3 got when it was unveiled.

Little over a week ago, The Michael Report became the first publication to publish the full details of the iPad Air 2 (ahead of the official announcement) based on documents and illustrations obtained from internal sources within Apple. Although we’re proud to say that we nailed most of the details (14 of them!) down, there were two that we completely missed the mark on.

In favor of total transparency, here’s the chart that was emailed to the staff of The Michael Report earlier today…

Apple October Event iPad Air 2

Apple October Event iPad Air 2 (2)

Apple October Event iPad Air 2 (3)

Hot Off The Heels Of The iPhone 6 Announcements…

Apple is set to unveil their latest offering of tablets, the iPad Air 2 (or iPad 6, if you will) as well as the iPad mini 3 (we haven’t heard much about the name internally), little more than a week from today in an event (Re/code reported the date to be on the 16th of October).

In the event, they’re also set to unveil a new lineup of iMacs (with an updated Retina display, finally), the latest version of Mac OS X, Yosemite, as well as a whole bunch of updated software (iMovie, FCP X, etc.). It’s going to be a huge event, although not as big as the one they just had for the new iPhones – hence the change in location, to the smaller Town Hall on Apple’s own campus.

But that wasn’t why you clicked on this article.

You wanted to know more about the iPad Air 2. And we’ve got all the details, right here.

Two researchers working for The Michael Report have obtained pictures and illustrations of the new iPads from sources within Apple, and have been able to independently verify both the design and the specifications to be true. As with all things Apple, there’s no doubt that they may change some minor details before the keynote… however, because we’ve heard that they’re already producing these new iPads at a large-scale, it’s unlikely that they’d make any drastic changes – which means that it’s almost 100% likely that the product we’ve seen is of the actual product.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’ve made the editorial decision to not publish the pictures and illustrations we’ve seen out of an abundance of caution in protecting the identity of our sources within Apple. Journalists who have covered Apple for a long time will understand that an internal team at Apple in charge of rooting out leaks will often change (or implement something minor into) the design of a product before letting it be seen by anyone else in the company (with exception to the team directly working on it), in an attempt to source the leakers, should it actually leak. We will, however, attempt to describe what we’ve seen as accurately as possible in words.

Display: 

Produced by TPK, GIS, Sharp, Samsung and LG (among a few others, we’re sure), the new iPad Airs will come with a fully-laminated display (this is done by manufacturing the cover glass and Retina LCD as a single unit – something they have done with the iPhone for years), which means that it’ll be quite a bit thinner than the current iPad Air. Along with this improvement in manufacturing technique, the quality of the screens should improve too (although we’re not sure if Apple is ready to make the jump to the iPhone 6 duo’s Retina HD screens just yet).

Design:

This is where it gets interesting: although there are lots of minor design changes, it’s not going to look like it at the first glance. Based on what we’ve seen, the form function of the iPad Air 2 is identical to the current iPad Air’s and there are no changes in the bezel.

Looking at the two iPad Airs from the front, there are no  changes that we could discern.

Due to the improvement in manufacturing technique (fully-laminated displays, as we talked about above), the iPad Air 2 is around 0.5 mm thinner than the current iPad Air… we’re hearing some whispers within Apple that they are going to market the new iPad Airs as the thinnest tablets on the market.

The speakers on the new iPad Airs have been re-engineered to take up a single row grill instead of the current two, and the holes are drilled to be slightly larger as a result (if you’ve got an iPhone 6/6 Plus, take a look at its speakers: it’s around that size, just ever so slightly larger).

The mute/vibration switch is completely gone in the new redesign, with sources from within Apple telling us that it was a necessary move to achieve the thinner profile of the new tablets.

The volume controls in the new iPad Airs are also slightly more recessed than the one on the current iPad Airs. Not a major change, but the change means that those volume buttons now blend in better with the contour of the new iPad Air.

The microphones on the iPad Air 2 have been relocated from the top of the iPad Air (where it currently is; within the antenna band) to next to the back camera modules. One of them is to the right of the camera module, the other is to the left – on the sides of the iPad Air.

Also, Apple will debut a gold colored version of the iPad Air 2, in addition to the current options of Black and Silver.

Cameras:

Both the ambient light sensor and the camera are in the same position in the new iPad Airs as they were in the current iPad Airs, although we’ve heard that Apple is upgrading the front-facing camera on the new iPad to FaceTime HD (with support for 720p video calling).

The camera on the back of the new iPad Air is getting an upgrade to 8 megapixels, instead of the current 5MP. This will result in faster, clearer and more detailed shots if you don’t mind looking ridiculous taking pictures with an iPad.

Internals: 

The iPad Air 2 will come with an upgraded A8 chip manufactured by TMSC and a 1GB bump in RAM, to 2GB. Apart from that, the new processor is supposed to run more efficiently than the current A7 chips, which translates to longer battery life for the new iPad Airs.

As for storage options, we’re hearing that Apple might ditch the 16GB option for the new iPad Airs (the option might still be available for the iPad mini 3) and limit customers to the 32, 64 and 128GB variants.

Touch ID and Apple Pay:

Unsurprisingly, the iPad Air 2 will come with the long-awaited Touch ID scanner on the home button (we heard internal chatters within Apple that due to the high failure rate of these Touch IDs last year, they’ve re-engineered a lot of the components to make them more durable and accurate).

In conjunction with incorporating Touch IDs into the new iPad Airs, Apple is also launching Apple Pay for customers of the new iPads (ridiculousness of pulling out a 9.7-inch tablet in front of everyone to pay for something be damned). Sources say that even if Apple Pay isn’t announced at the keynote, it will be shortly after the event.

iPad Pro:

There has been lots of rumors that Apple might unveil a 12.9-inch iPad Pro in the near future. So far, we haven’t heard anything about it.

That’s all we’ve got for now. If what we’ve seen is indeed Apple’s next iPad Air, then it’s undoubtedly going to be a winner for a consumer base that’s currently stagnant.

We can’t wait.

If you’ve got any further tips on the iPad Air 2 (or anything that you think we’d be interested in), drop us a line.

With just an hour or two to go before Apple executives take the stage to unveil their latest offerings to the world, I’ve managed to secure confirmation for the information published herein from various sources within and across Apple (they’ve all been asked to screen the report below for any inaccuracies and those that were debatable have been expunged). Although Apple might pull a bait-and-switch move on their employees to prevent any leaks, these are, to the best of my knowledge, the products Apple will be unveiling today at the Flint Center…

  1. A new 4.7-inch iPhone, a 0.7 inch increase from the biggest current offering, the 4.0 inch iPhone 5/5S. As previously reported by The Michael Report, it will feature a waterproof and dust-proof enhanced sapphire glass screen, running at a 1,134 X 750 (326 PPI @2x) Retina HD resolution. It will (naturally) launch with iOS 8 and include an A8 SoC chip with quad-core processing power, an eight megapixel camera as well as a 2.1 megapixel camera for the front facing camera. Similar to the iPhone 5S, the iPhone 6 will come in Black, White and Gold color options. What’s new to the iPhone 6, however, is the option to purchase a 128GB version, in addition to the usual 16 and 64 GB options (the 32GB option is gone).
  2. iPhone 6L: this is the name for Apple’s larger iPhone 6 offering, which will feature a 5.5 inch sapphire-enhanced display at 2208 X 1242 (461 PPI @3x) Retina HD resolution. Apart from the screen size and resolution, there is little to differentiate the iPhone 6L from the iPhone 6 (however, the battery life is expected to be longer on the iPhone 6L than on the iPhone 6 primarily due to size – it’s easier to fit a bigger battery into a bigger phone). The iPhone 6L will also come with called the Optical Image Stabilization chip, which should enable what Apple is calling “cinematic video stabilization”.
  3. The iPhone 6L is expected to retail exactly $100 more than the iPhone 6 when it comes to market on September 19 (both phones will have the same release date although multiple supply chain sources have said that the iPhone 6 is Apple’s priority when it comes to production, not the iPhone 6L… which means unless you get lucky on September 19, odds are that you’ll have for quite a bit). Why the iPhone 6L instead of just the iPhone 6? Because people want it – and they’re willing to pay for it, internal Apple research shows.
  4. Why does the iPhone 6L and not the iPhone 6 get a 3x retina resolution? The answer here lies with battery life of the respective devices.. At 3x resolution, the screen would require a way larger battery to sustain it than the one Apple can fit into the slim frame of the iPhone 6. The iPhone 6L, therefore, is the perfect testing ground to ensure all developers get up to speed with regards to updating their apps for the incoming 3x retina resolution, which we’ll eventually see on future iPads, Macs and iPods and iPhones.
  5. Design: no huge changes. Many were expecting radical design changes (like from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4)… but sorry to disappoint. While some changes are inevitable, it’s not going to be a radical change from the frame and design of the iPhone 5/5S. Apple thinks they’ve perfected the blueprint of what a phone should look and feel like with the iPhone 5/5S’ body and they’re not about to change it. Also, the iPhone 5/5S design didn’t have any overt flaws (unlike the exposed antenna design of the iPhone 4), which means that there isn’t a pressing need for them to change it just yet.
  6. Less exciting… but it’s time to talk about prices. The iPhone 6L will retail these price points for 32/64/128 GB respectively: $299/$399/$499. The iPhone 6 will retail at these price points for 32/64/128 GB respectively: $199/$299/$399. Preliminary  internal documents obtained by The Michael Report shows that the iPhone 5S will now retail for $99 (if you bought it in the last few (4?) weeks, you can exchange it for an iPhone 6/6L… Apple is still working out on whether to charge extra for this or not at press time. The plastic iPhone 5C will go free with a 2-year contract (some have been asking… no, unfortunately Apple has not and will not rework the iPhone 5C to include a TouchID scanner).
  7. Apple will debut their mobile payments system, which they’re calling “revolutionary”. There have been lots of reports on this, but one thing previously unstated was that Apple is not looking to “disrupt” the payment services industry… they’re looking to complement it. Also, typical of Apple, they’ve strong-armed several companies in the finance industry to let them take a cut of the profits (one of these companies – which we’ve able to confirm – is MasterCard).
  8. iWatch (or whatever they’re going to call it, which probably won’t be iWatch) – here’s the only thing I’ve been able to confirm for now – and most publications, really: it’ll be something you can wear on your wrist. It’ll revolutionize the way we think about what we wear on our wrists (many within Apple report that the now-infamous “Switzerland is fucked” quote from Jony Ive is an oft-repeated mantra by the designer). My guess, however, is that the iWatch (let’s call it that for the sake of clarity) will be the reason why Apple’s stocks will tank tomorrow – it’s going to be that controversial. It is not a perfect product: it’ll come with a whole bunch of shortcomings (much like the first iPhone or iPad), but many within Apple believe that the release of the iWatch will plant the seeds for Apple’s future wearable strategy.

That’s it for the hardware portion… Apple will undoubtedly release lots of new software too. To follow the event live from your computer, here’s the link: Apple Special Event Live Broadcast. If you’ve got any other tips, please contact The Michael Report.

Twitter has been busy recently, testing out lots of experimental features on different users – many of which would eventually become available to all Twitter users.

The latest one The Michael Report discovered was pretty interesting: the Twitter app now notifies you via a push notification whenever someone from your contacts joins Twitter.

Earlier today, here was what we saw…

twitter new feature themichaelreport

Updating as we hear more…

Several news outlet have begun re-reporting Trendforce LEDinside’s analyst report that Apple’s iPhone 6 display, slated for launch in late 2014, will not be made out of sapphire glass as previously reported and shown due to the disappointingly low yields during the production of the glass.

While that reasoning might make sense in theory (it is, after all, quite difficult to perfect the production of sapphire glass at high scale), engineers inside Apple would scoff at the report – if and when they read it.

Deep sources within Apple’s iPhone hardware division have told The Michael Report that despite theoretical claims, the iPhone 6 will still feature an enhanced sapphire glass display and that the production of these glasses have been nearly perfected to ensure a better-than-usual yield.

As evidenced in the video displaying the sapphire glass’ resilience to scratch and pressure, the sapphire glass display would be revolutionary in its own right – it’s thinner than any glass used by other manufacturers out there and by Apple’s internal measures, stronger than what is widely regarded as the current industry standard: Corning’s Gorilla Glass.

Within Apple, many have dubbed the new sapphire display to be “bulletproof”.

Apple, according to these sources, will market the glass for its durability, which in turn also mean less visits to the Apple Store because of screen defects and cracks.

Although this claim hasn’t been checked throughly, I’ve also heard whispers from within Apple that the company is working extremely hard on improving the touchscreen sensitivity on the iPhone 6 as well as treating it to make it more waterproof – although do note that this waterproofing isn’t the same ones that some Android phones feature, but rather, is a treatment to make the sapphire glasses more resistant to light water splashes.

Got a juicy tidbit on the iPhone 6? Let The Michael Report know. 

UPDATE: 

Soon after the publication post, two independent sources from a company contracted by Apple to manufacture these sapphire glasses contacted The Michael Report with some additional information, which we’ve verified to be true with other background sources.

The two sources who have personally worked on the development of these glasses said that the reason why the iPhone 6 is more waterproof than other iPhones manufactured in the past is not because the individual glasses are treated or coated with some substances as we previously suspected, but rather, because of the way these glasses are manufactured. In fact, these sources pointed out that waterproofing of the screen is nothing new since many Android smartphones (the Galaxy S line started doing this around two years ago) released in the past had this feature.

Previously unreported, The Michael Report has also heard that the new iPhone 6 display will work almost perfectly with gloves – a pleasantly surprising feature for many who did not expect Apple to do such a thing, since one would expect Apple to label such a feature gimmicky.

As with all things Apple, the much-improved screen isn’t a half-baked attempt to incorporate as many features as possible, but rather, a genuine attempt to improve the lives of the iPhone users – so much so that Apple’s executive team did not green light the mass production of the screens until it could be used with pinpoint accuracy.

Two days ago, faux-TechCrunch technology news site VentureBeat reported something startling: they’ve heard through a source that BuzzFeed may be raising an enormous $200 million round sometime in the future. Many people believed the report, for one reason: it seems entirely plausible that BuzzFeed, now worth around $1 billion after Disney’s valuation, can raise such a huge round. After all, it seems like BuzzFeed is one of the few content-producing companies investors actually want to invest in.

But the report seems entirely fabricated. And there are two reasons why.

First of all, it’s almost inconceivable to any industry insider that BuzzFeed, who raised a $20 million round just last year, is considering yet another round at ten times the previous amount.

To date, BuzzFeed have raised four rounds of financing, with overall amount totaling $46 million. Unless BuzzFeed demonstrated stratospheric growth within one year, $200 million is an unthinkable reach.

Secondly, VentureBeat’s report is the epitome of bad journalism: the report doesn’t state anything definitively, nor does it offer any proof other than an anonymous source. The report also incorporates plausible deniability from the beginning till the end, to shield VentureBeat from having to take up any blame if the report doesn’t pan out in reality. The report, at this point, seems nothing more than a bunch of wild guesses conjectured by a bored journalist on a slow news day.

But let’s take a look at why… I’ve annotated VentureBeat’s entire report below to point out the glaring flaws:

BuzzFeed may raise a $200 million funding round — its fifth to date — a source close to the matter claims.

Red flag #1: the writer used the word “may”. Maybe BuzzFeed will, maybe BuzzFeed won’t. Strong plausible deniability in play here.

Red flag #2: only one source (and an anonymous one, at that) was able to corroborate the story.

It’s unclear how far along talks are, nor is it clear who will lead the round, although existing investors NEA, Lerer Ventures, RRE Ventures, Hearst Ventures, and SV Angel may participate. When reached for comment, a BuzzFeed spokesperson provided VentureBeat with the following statement: “We don’t comment on rumors and speculation.”

The writer is basically saying, “we don’t know what’s happening.” Being “unclear” of how far along the talks are means that the financing may be tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or even in the next decade.

The writer just doesn’t know. There’s no projected timeline.

This is, of course, great for VentureBeat because as long as BuzzFeed raises a $200 million round (if that) in its existence, they would be able to point to it and say, “we said so first!”

The writer also doesn’t know who will be leading the round… so at this point, the only thing that’s somewhat confirmed is BuzzFeed looking to raise a $200 million round.

According to VentureBeat’s source, the $200 million figure is seen as a median estimate; the round may fall above or below that line.

Wait a minute… so the only thing this entire report is based off… is not even confirmed?

Why write the report in the first place if the writer can’t even nail the number? Saying the round “may fall above or below” $200 million can mean anything in the world: BuzzFeed may end up raising a $50 million round, or a $400 million round.

Either way, VentureBeat’s report will still be technically “correct”.

There’s really no way to fault VentureBeat here…

Buzzfeed’s last funding round back in January 2013 saw the company raise nearly $20 million at a rumored valuation of $200 million. Following its last round, Buzzfeed reportedly planned to expand its mobile and video products. To date, Buzzfeed has raised $46.3 million.

BuzzFeed’s list posts and experiments in long-form journalism reached an “audience of more than 130 million unique visitors in November [2013],” according to an official press release. Yet, BuzzFeed took a few blows to the chest this month: The site’s Facebook traffic has reportedly tanked, and BuzzFeed’s longtime chief operating officer and president Jon Steinberg left the firm for British news and entertainment site The Daily Mail.

The rest of the report is just history of BuzzFeed’s past rounds and future goals, which anyone could’ve written in five minutes by Googling the term “BuzzFeed”.

If we’re basing predictions off this report, the odds of BuzzFeed raising a $200 million round is exactly… 0%.