Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) seems set to release its latest tablet computer, rumored to be called the iPad 5, tomorrow. The company has confirmed an event, and hinted that it still has a lot to show off this year. With worries abound about the future of the iPhone as the company’s biggest earner, the iPad 5 release may be the most important since the first iteration of the product.

Apple event

A report on the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) event from Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White takes this exact line. The company’s shares are trading at their highest level since January leading into the release of the new iPad, so it seems that the market agrees with Mr. White’s theory.

iPad release rumors

There have been relatively few rumors doing the rounds about the design of the iPad 5. Brian White expects the device to be 15% thinner than the iPad 4, and 20-30% lighter than the last iteration of the firm’s tablet computer. In addition White expects the device to be less wide than the iPad 4. The 7-10% reduction in width will allow the device to be held more comfortably in the hand.

Analysts also seem to be broadly expecting the color scheme of the iPad to change. The new devices will come in the same silver, gold and space-gray that the iPhone 5s was released in. The device is also expected to come with a fingerprint sensor similar to the one found in the most recent Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone.

The hardware will be an upgrade over the iPad 4, but it won’t be so good as to inspire widespread consumer upgrades. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has come a long way in terms of its hardware offerings, now it needs to worry about software.

Apple iPad 5 apps

The iPad 5 event will probably see the release of that device and some new MacBook computers. There may also be an iPad Mini at the event, but analysts are not certain on that point. What many would like to see from Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is software. Much of the talk of competition in the tablet market concentrates on the advent of cheap Android models. It’s not Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) that Apple needs to worry about.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is moving in on the enterprise market. Its advantage is its software rather than its hardware, and it always has been. If Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) doesn’t want to lose the tablet race, it needs to compete on software with Microsoft.