Apple may add color, upsize iPad: Will that juice sales?

Apple needs to jump start demand for its iPad line. It's unclear whether a gold option and ultimately a 12.9-inch tablet will do the trick.

Apple is reportedly adding color to its full sized iPads with a gold option and planning a 12.9-inch option.

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According to Bloomberg, a gold option for its 9.7-inch iPad would bring the options in line with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple is expected to host an iPad launch event in October.

What's unclear is whether color options can really get iPad sales rolling. Apple's iPad sales have waned amid a swarm of low-cost Android tablets and general fatigue with the form factor. For Apple's fiscal 2013, iPad accounted for 19 percent of revenue and Jefferies analyst Sundeep Bajikar expects a drop to 17 percent. By fiscal 2016, iPad will be 14 percent of sales, said Bajikar.

Apple is also planning to roll out a 12.9-inch version of the iPad, which could ultimately poach laptop sales.

Apple's screen upsizing and color efforts for tablets reflect a few moving parts:

  • The iPhone 6 Plus is likely to cannibalize sales of the iPad mini, which with a 7-inch screen isn't much larger.
  • A 12.9-inch iPad is likely to be more of an option for the enterprise, which Apple is actively courting via a partnership with IBM. The downside is that an iPad that large is likely to swipe MacBook Air sales.
  • The upgrade cycle for the iPad is likely to be tricky for Apple to manage. Tablets are lasting a long time in the field and there hasn't been much of a reason to upgrade. Meanwhile, cheap tablets on Android and now the Windows platform almost makes tablets disposable devices.

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