Apple is preparing a larger version of its iPad for release in 2015. The company remains bullish on the tablet market, despite a dip in shipments in recent quarters. The bigger iPad, with a screen as big as those of laptops, could help Apple stir up fresh interest in its tablets.
The new iPad will feature a screen measuring 12.9 inches across the diagonal, according to sources cited by Bloomberg. Apple's suppliers are preparing to manufacture the device, with production expected to kick off during the first quarter. Bloomberg reports that Apple has been working with its suppliers for at least a year on the product.
Apple's current tablet lineup includes the 7.9-inch iPad Mini and 9.7-inch iPad Air. Much of the tablet market's softness this year has been in the smaller segment, with consumers opting for big phones and big tablets. Apple could be looking to capitalize on this trend, but the timing is probably coincidental. Bloomberg said Apple CEO Tim Cook is "working to shake up the iPad line." Speaking to Re/Code, Apple's Cook said, "We couldn't be happier with how we've done with the first four years of the iPad. I'd call what's going on recently a speed bump, and I've seen that in every category."
Apple's iPad business is second only to the iPhone. The iPhone is Apple's chief revenue generator. Apple is also preparing its standard once-yearly refresh to the smaller two tablets, which are expected to arrive before the holidays.
[Reports say the larger iPhone display may be delayed. See Will iPhone 6 Production Problems Hurt Availability?]
Apple sees the larger iPad as a business-class productivity machine. Earlier this year Apple partnered with IBM, a move it said could "be a catalyst for future iPad growth." The larger tablet could replace laptops in some instances, though some mobile pros may prefer to have a device with a real keyboard. It wouldn't be surprising at all for Apple to sell a Bluetooth keyboard as an accessory to the larger tablet. A large-screen tablet with a full-sized keyboard certainly blurs the line between tablets and laptops, at least as far as the pros and cons of their form factors are concerned.
Apple is looking to refresh its laptop lineup, as well. The company has long been expected to debut a smaller, 12-inch MacBook Air, possibly with a Retina display. This device may arrive by the end of the year, as could a refreshed version of the MacBook. A new report suggests Apple will do away with the non-Retina version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro and replace it with a slimmer device. Apple likes to have clear lines classifying its devices, though, and it is hard to see the company offering a 12-inch Retina MacBook Air alongside a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.
Apple is holding an event September 9, but it will be reserved for the new iPhones. Don't expect to see the new tablets until October.
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