There have been rumors about a 12.9-inch iPad for some time, and now, they’ve surfaced again. The current iPad Air has a 9.7-inch screen, so anything bigger would be new ground for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). The 12.9-inch iPad probably won’t be the next one released, however, as it sounds like Apple suppliers are prepping the next 9.7-inch iPad, possible the iPad Air 2.
Bigger iPad in the works
Bloomberg reports that Apple is planning to start manufacturing the 12.9-inch iPad by the end of next year’s first quarter. The website cites unnamed sources who said the company has been working with its suppliers for a year or more to develop “a new range of larger touch-screen devices.”
For the last two quarters in a row, iPad sales have declined as Apple hasn’t released any truly new models. Instead, consumers have been opting for phablets, or smartphones that have a larger screen and can somewhat bridge the gap between a tablet and phone.
What’s interesting is that Apple is looking to a larger iPad for growth. Bloomberg notes that most of the growth in the tablet market has come in the low-end smaller display models that run Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s Android operating system. Last year Android grabbed the largest share of the tablet market with 62%. Apple’s iPads had just a 36% share of the market at the end of last year, a significant decline from 53% in 2012.
The company is probably focusing on enterprise customers, however, as they may be more interested in a tablet that can replace a traditional laptop by serving as a sort of hybrid device.
iPad Air 2 manufacturing underway
Bloomberg’s sources also said that suppliers have recently begun manufacturing an updated iPad with a 9.7-inch display, which may be the iPad Air 2. Apple’s suppliers were also reportedly preparing to begin producing a new iPad Mini version. The company is said to be trying to get the new iPads out just in time for Christmas.