Consumer tech giant Apple is readying its supply chain to manufacture a 12.9-inch iPad tablet computer with production set to begin in the first quarter of 2015.
Apple now makes iPad units that measure 9.7 inches, such as the iPad Air, and 7.9 inches, such as the iPad mini.
The move towards a 12.9-inch device indicates a willingness on Apple’s part to see tablet devices used increasingly as business productivity tools and not just for information and entertainment.
Rival Samsung already manufactures a Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2-inch device, while Microsoft’s latest hybrid device, the Surface Pro 3, measures 12 inches.
According to Bloomberg, Apple has been working with suppliers for at least a year to develop the larger tablet computer.
News of the larger displays appear to have been welcomed by the stock markets, with shares of Korea’s LG Display Co and Taiwan’s AU Optronics Corp climbing overnight to their highest level since 2012.
Apple needs to shake up what can be seen as a slump in iPad sales after revenues from these devices declined in the last two quarters.
The iPad is Apple’s second biggest selling product after the iPhone.
The next step for Apple – software will eat the world
If you’ve been watching Apple closely over the last year you will recognise that while hardware product releases have become somewhat predictable, the California company has put considerable emphasis on software.
While new iPhone models are expected on 9 September – rumoured to be in 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch configurations – the scale and breadth of what Apple is trying to achieve with its forthcoming Mac OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 is worth noting.
To many, Apple is a hardware company, but observing the performances at its WWDC developers conference in June, Apple’s fluency in software engineering and marching in step with 64-bit computing in mobile devices, as well as using unified communications to bridge the divide between the Mac and the iOS worlds, has been stunning.
It is worth remembering that along with Yosemite and iOS 8, Apple revealed its own Swift programming language.
On a simplistic level, the redesign of Mac OS X Yosemite borrowed heavily from iOS 7, but on a deeper level you are seeing Apple effectively unifying desktop and mobile computing into one ecosystem.
If anything, it appears that if larger iPhones and larger iPad devices are on the way, Apple is lining up its ducks to be a major force in business productivity and enterprise, as well as enabling digital lifestyles.
Its recent deal with IBM is a testament to this. Apple means business.