Apple has reportedly told suppliers to hold off on production of a larger-screen iPad, also called the iPad Pro, writes the Wall Street Journal. Manufacturing, which was slated to begin in the first quarter of 2015, has been rescheduled for September.
Reports on the cause of delays differ. A Bloomberg source claims that the late start is related to the supply of display panels. WSJ, on the other hand, says that Apple is still grappling with capabilities and designs to suit its business audience.
The latter argument seems more believable, especially given that the tablet market has seen some serious decline in recent months. Apple's iPad line has experienced a downward trend for four straight quarters. The company's larger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which put Apple on top of the smartphone market last quarter, are competition.
The end of 2014 signified the tablet market's first decline since 2010. Apple continued to lead with 21.4 million iPads sold, but that number was a 17.8% decline from its year-end sales in 2013. Despite a larger iPad lineup and lower entry-level price point, the company couldn't generate enough consumer enthusiasm to spark sales.
Now CEO Tim Cook is looking to bring new life to Apple's tablet offerings. iPad devices are currently 9.7 inches, with the mini measuring 7.9 inches. A larger device could be popular, especially within the enterprise market.
Apple has been trying to attract business customers, a strategy boosted by its growing partnership with IBM. The two recently launched a collection of enterprise-focused apps catering to the financial, retail and airline industries.
The problem is, size alone won't be enough to spur enterprise iPad sales. If Apple intends for business users to replace laptops with tablets, it'll have to provide greater functionality.
New iPad features may include USB ports and USB 3.0 technology, a faster upgrade to the current USB port that transfers data at 10 times the original speed, reports WSJ. The enhanced model could prove very useful when transferring large amounts of data. It would be a definite improvement upon the current iPads, which don't offer any USB support.
In a letter to Tim Cook last year, billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn demonstrated his support for a larger iPad, claiming that such a device could reinvigorate the product line.
"After a disappointing FY 2014, we believe the iPad will reaccelerate growth next year, especially if Apple, as rumored, offers a larger screen 12.9" iPad in FY 2015," Icahn wrote. He also claimed that improvements to the current iPad devices, in addition to Apple's partnership with IBM, would facilitate growth.
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