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Apple to debut 27" Retina iMac at Oct. 16 event, next-gen iPad Air supply to be limited

At its special media event on Thursday, Apple is expected to release a highly-anticipated 27-inch iMac with Retina quality display that will ship before the end of 2014, as well as a next-generation iPad Air that could see limited initial supply, says one well-informed analyst.

According to a research note obtained by AppleInsider, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes Apple will introduce the long-awaited high-resolution iMac alongside a next-generation iPad Air at a media event scheduled for Oct. 16.

Kuo expects only a 27-inch Retina iMac model to take the stage this week, though a 21-inch version is in the works and could debut in the second half of 2015. The analyst says Apple started on the 27-inch offering prior to the 21-inch because developing two different sized high-resolution panels is a demanding task. Comparatively, the larger-screened iteration draws high-end users who can afford the additional cost, making the model ripe for release.

Reports from September claimed the rumored 27-inch Retina iMac will feature a 5K display, though exact specifications have not been confirmed. Code discovered in an OS X 10.10 Yosemite beta in June pointed to 6,400-by-3,600-pixel screen resolutions, possibly hinting at scaling options for a Retina panel.

Out of the products being announced on Thursday, Kuo sees the new iPad Air generating the most interest, but the analyst notes production issues could stymie a massive launch. Poor yield rates associated with the tablet's anti-reflective screen coating have delayed manufacturing, prompting a downgrade in shipments to between 7 and 9 million units, lower than the 12 million units shipped with the first iPad Air last year.

The iPad mini with Retina display is unlikely to see a major revision this year as Apple is placing focus on a rumored 12.9-inch model to be released in early 2015.

Finally, Kuo does not expect Apple to ship any new MacBook products in 2014 — including a rumored 12-inch MacBook Air with Retina display — citing chip shipment delays from Intel. The analyst believes new MacBook models will start production in the first quarter of 2015, but doubts Apple will announce the products on Oct. 16.

Kuo's predictions line up with a report from Tuesday claiming Apple will launch both a high-resolution iMac and next-gen iPad Air 2 at its upcoming media event, but is not planning to announce new MacBook Air hardware.

The company is also widely expected to announce public availability of OS X Yosemite, the next-generation Mac operating system with enhanced interaction with iOS devices through new Continuity features. Apple may take the opportunity to launch Apple Pay, which was promised to drop in October, suggesting the launch of iOS 8.1.

AppleInsider will be covering the event live on Thursday from 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern. Apple is also offering a live stream accessible through the Web or Apple TV.