Rumors surrounding Apple’s alleged larger 12.9-inch iPad resurfaced earlier this week when Bloomberg reported news that the device will launch early next year. A debate immediately opened up across several media outlets asking one big question: does Apple need this iPad to help spur new sales of its iPad?
In Apple’s fiscal second quarter earnings report this year, the company noted that iPad sales had slipped 16 percent year-over-year. Then, in the fiscal third quarter, Apple noted that sales were down year-on-year yet again, by about 1.3 million units. I questioned at the time whether or not Apple had a major iPad problem on its hands, largely because it appeared that a trend was starting.
What caused the trend?
I argued that Apple hasn’t created enough of a reason for owners of older iPad devices to upgrade to new models. Sure, the iPad Air is a compelling product, and the iPad mini with Retina Display has a much sharper screen than its predecessor, but Apple – thankfully – still provides software updates for its older devices.
Boiled down to its simplest, it’s like asking someone who already ate supper if they’re hungry for dinner. Maybe the dinner is tastier, but you’re already stuffed and don’t want to eat again. With the larger 12.9-inch iPad, however, Apple’s creating another meal.
MarketWatch asked several folks in the tech industry yesterday whether or not a new iPad is a good idea. I argued it is. I think creating a new form factor for the device potentially opens up new use case scenarios not only for consumers, but for the education segment and for the enterprise, where Apple is now partnering with IBM. Additionally, rumors of a new feature inside iOS 8 that may eventually allow for side-by-side multitasking adds a new dimension to the iPad. Sure, it’s possible on a smaller screen no doubt, but I think Apple could use the feature as a big selling point for a larger 12.9-inch iPad.
Students might be able to read a text book and take notes or watch a live broadcast of class at the same time. In the enterprise, conferences could be held while editing a spreadsheet. These of course are features already offered on some Android tablets and on Windows 8.1, but Apple hasn’t yet stepped into the space and could create demand for its own iOS products that are more capable.
That’s not to mention that it’s easier, at least for me, to actually work on a larger screen. On a weekend trip, for example, I might pack a 12.9-inch iPad and a full sized Bluetooth keyboard case instead of my MacBook Air. I told MarketWatch that there must certainly be concerns in the industry that Apple’s larger 12.9-inch iPad might cannibalize sales of its MacBook products, but Apple has never feared cannibalizing its own products. Plus, with OS X Yosemite the company’s full-fledged computing platform is more powerful than ever, and it offers a completely different experience.
I’d certainly consider a larger 12.9-inch iPad to complement my iPad mini with Retina and my MacBook Air, and I don’t think I’m the only one that’s interested in such a product. I think that situation is telling, too, because I otherwise have no plans to upgrade my iPad mini this year, even if Apple introduces a model with a faster processor and Touch ID.
I’ve already eaten dinner but, sure, I’ll have a bit of dessert.