Apple's launch of a larger, 12.9-inch iPad -- which would most likely target enterprise users -- appears to be delayed until later this year. That means fans are unlikely to get a sneak peek at an updated iPad at a special media event Apple has scheduled to take place Monday in San Francisco.
The current family of iPads include the iPad mini, iPad mini 2 and iPad mini 3, all of which sport a 7.9-inch screen, and the 9.7-inch iPad Air and iPad Air 2. Industry observers have predicted that a larger iPad aimed more at business users could help Apple revitalize sales, which have flagged in the wake of its launch of larger-screen phones such as the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus last year.
Several news sources are reporting that Apple will likely not release a larger iPad until sometime later this year, possibly in September. In the meantime, the Cupertino, California-based company is reportedly seeking samples of various display technologies for the new device from a number of its suppliers.
Oxide LCD Panels Likely
Apple has been exploring different options for the new device's display panel, according to a report Thursday in DigiTimes. It cites panel supply chain sources who said the company has now decided to go with an oxide LCD panel over other options such as a-Si or TFT LCD.
The article further noted that Sharp was expected to be Apple's choice for the main supplier "due to its advantages in the market for oxide production." LG is likely to be its backup choice to ensure reliable supplies of the new device. Mass production could begin in July and August, the report added.
While no official details on the larger iPad are yet being released by Apple, The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday reported that the new device could include USB ports and ports for a keyboard and mouse. Current versions of the iPad don't come with such ports, and the fact that Apple is considering those supports the suggestion that Apple is aiming the new device squarely at enterprise users.
Apple last summer unveiled a new partnership with IBM in which the two companies are collaborating on more than 100 new mobile apps for enterprise iOS users. A larger iPad could support that initiative by replacing laptops for many on-the-go or in-the-field business users.
Declining iPad Sales
We reached out to Apple and were told by a spokesperson that the company did not have any comment on its reported plans for the 12.9-inch iPad.
Apple has seen iPad sales decline from their peak of more than 26 million units in early 2014 to 21.4 million units as of the first quarter of its fiscal 2015 year, which started Sept. 28, 2014. Those first-quarter figures, however, occurring during the holiday sales period, did show a rebound from lower sales during the rest of 2014, which hit a low of 12.3 million units in the fourth quarter.
"The company believes the decline in sales is due in part to a longer repurchase cycle for iPads and some level of cannibalization from the company's other products," the Q1 2015 financial report said. "Additionally, while iPad channel inventory in all of the company's operating segments increased from the beginning to the end of the quarter to support new product introductions and seasonal demand, it was less than the increase in iPad channel inventory during the first quarter of 2014."
Meanwhile, the star of next week's Apple event is likely to be the new Apple Watch, which is set to hit the market sometime in April. CEO Tim Cook has described the coming smart watch as "the most personal product we've ever made."