Shortly before Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) unveiled their iPad Air and iPad Mini 2, one former Apple employee reported that the company was working on an iPad keyboard similar to the Microsoft Surface keyboard.

apple iPad
Courtesy of Apple Insider

Jamie Ryan wrote a blog post based on information current Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) employees told him. Although Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has yet to introduce a new keyboard for their popular tablet computer, the idea that such a device may soon exist is welcomed.

Third-party vendors not worried about competition

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) already has a few third-party vendors that make iPad keyboards. Fortunately, most of them aren’t too worried if Apple decides to launch their own tablet keyboard. Logitech’s vice president Mike Culver admitted he was surprised that a large number of people didn’t know that there were already keyboards available for the iPad. If it sounds like they’re bluffing, they’re most likely telling the truth.

Competing with Apple nothing new for accessories market

NPD research firm senior analyst Stephen Baker thinks that these businesses realize there is room for everyone and they already compete with Apple with various products.

CNET elaborated on Baker’s explanation: “He’s talking about all the other accessories third-party vendors make. Logitech, which makes its UltraThin Keyboard Cover, also makes other Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) accessories like iPhone chargers. Ditto with ZAGG, which makes the ZAGGkeys ProFolio+ keyboard. Same with Kensington, Belkin and Targus, who round out the top five iPad keyboard makers, according to NPD. So these guys are used to competing with the official Apple brand. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) did not respond to a request for comment.”

The market for virtual keyboards is still relatively small. The market for tablet covers with built-in keyboards is even smaller. NPD reported it’s about 10 percent of the market and it’s growing at a slow pace. Baker also thinks that all of the market is maturing.

Whether tablets fully replace personal computers and laptops sometime in the near future remains to be seen.