Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s next iPad is predicted to be as thin as the iPad Mini. According to The Wall Street Journal, the popular tablet will lose its somewhat bulky design and feature a film-based touch panel instead of a glass-based touch panel.

Apple ipad

Increasing demand for film-based touch panel

The trend of film-based touch panels is catching on with many technology device makers. Not only has the technology for film improved over time, but it also has an advantage of being lighter by design. If this report is true, it could be a good thing for suppliers. As WSJ reports, “Because Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is the world’s largest vendor of tablet computers, what technologies it uses to produce iPads could have a significant impact on component suppliers. More demand for film-based touch panels is good news for manufacturers of PET films that are used to produce such panels.”

Nitto Denko, a global film supplier from Japan, set aside Y90 billion for investment for the current fiscal year through March 2014. This is the largest capital expenditure for the firm and it’s up by 80% from the Y50 billion spent during the last fiscal year.

Apple facing competition in tablet market

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) used to lead the tablet market with the iPad, but now thanks to serious competition from Android tablets like the Galaxy Tab and Kindle Fire, the company has since lost their edge. An iPad with a thinner design may be just the thing to reignite interest in their tablet. As Darrell Etherington for Tech Crunch elaborates, size matters. He explained, “The fourth-generation iPad, and the third-generation device before it, are actually heavier and thicker than the iPad 2, something made necessary by the introduction of the Retina display in those later devices. Shaving weight and size isn’t only logical because of the iPad mini’s example, it’s also something that could help Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) considerably in terms of providing an upgrade incentive to existing iPad owners.”

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) prides themselves as the leader of mobile technology. Although the company is expected to make necessary changes in order to stay relevant, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is still a company that people know and trust. It’s only a matter of time until they’re back in the lead.