The iPad, when considered as a standalone device, has been a knock-out sales success, but when it is compared to the iPhone the sales are less than stellar and this is making analysts and investors somewhat jittery.
Could Apple help buoy flagging iPad sales by adding a bigger tablet to the lineup?
During Q4 14 Apple sold 12.31 million iPad and iPad mini tablets, down 7 percent on the previous quarter and down 13 percent on the year-ago quarter. In terms of sales, this was the worst quarter for the iPad since Q2 12. iPad revenues were down 10 percent compared to the previous quarter, and down 14 percent compared to the year-ago quarter.
When it comes to smartphone and tablet sizes, buyers can be somewhat schizophrenic. According to analysts and pundits, buyers wanted a larger iPhone - which resulted in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus - and a smaller iPad - hence the iPad mini. Now the techno-clairvoyants feel that what Apple needs now is a larger iPad.
There has been no end of rumors linked to the iPad Pro, which is what the media have dubbed the mythical tablet. The gossip on the wires is that the iPad Pro will feature a 12.2 to 12.9-inch display with a resolution of 2,732 by 2,048 and pixel density of 265 pixels-per-inch, and would be powered by the either a modified A8X chip - as found in the iPad Air 2 - or an entirely new chip in the line rumoured to be called the A9/A9X.
Apart from that, it would be just like the current iPad, except that it is bigger. And don't ask me how much the Goliath iPad would cost, because I don't know. I'd hazard a guess that the larger display, along with the bigger battery, would add around $200 to $300 to the price tag.
As to whether there's a market for a bigger iPad, it remains to be seen. The idea is that professionals - from circles such as design, the creative arts, and medical - would be interested in an iPad with a bigger screen. And while an iPad with a bigger display might get hardcore fanboys foaming at the mouth, I've yet to see a single convincing poll or survey that suggests that there is any real interest in such a device.
And the premium price tag is going to mean that the iPad Pro is going to be more niche that mainstream. Which means that at best it will add only a few million to the quarterly sales totals.
So, the bottom line is that it's unlikely that a Pro version of the iPad would do much for iPad sales overall. Apple might be able to reinvigorate sales by cutting prices, adding more value, or pack in more innovation, but adding a premium tier is unlikely to accomplish much.
I'm not saying that an iPad Pro won't happen, but Apple is going to have to do a lot more than juggle display sizes.