Could a wireless charging Smart Cover boost flagging iPad sales?

Split-screen multi-tasking and a larger iPad could speed the upgrade cycle. So too could the wireless charging cover that Apple envisioned back in 2011.

There's no arguing the numbers: Sales of iPads have trended downward for some time.

A strong contributor is that the tablet upgrade cycle isn't as quick as that of handsets. Adding new features to the iPad line, however, would provide some incentive for upgraders to a buy a new tablet -- effectively speeding up the upgrade cycle -- while also attracting first time buyers.

Apple could do that with the rumored iPad Pro: A larger slate that's meant to boost productivity. And the new multi-tasking, split-screen features in iOS 9 hint further at that possibility.

Would a larger tablet option alone be compelling enough though?

I'm not so sure about that but I'm thinking that the next iPad refresh cycle could benefit from the addition of wireless charging. More specifically, I could see Apple finally implement a new iPad Smart Cover that integrates wireless charging coils.

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That might sound far-fetched but Apple filed a patent for just such a cover back in September 2011, the year after it first launched the iPad. The USPTO granted the patent this past December. Although Apple could implement it on non-tablet devices, the patent is pretty specific to tablets:

"A protective cover arranged to protect at least a display of a tablet device, comprising: a body portion having a size and shape in accordance with the display, comprising: an inductive power transmitter arranged to wirelessly pass power to a corresponding inductive power receiver unit disposed within the tablet device by inductively coupling; at least a first magnetic element, and at least a second magnetic element used to secure the body portion to the display in a closed configuration, wherein in the closed configuration the first magnetic element is detected by a sensor disposed within the tablet device, the detection altering a current operating state of the tablet device; and an attachment mechanism for pivotally attaching the body portion to the tablet device."

Up until this year, Apple has stayed out of the wireless charging fracas; likely, I think because of multiple competing standards.

The standards battle is now dying down (finally!) and Apple included wireless charging with its watch. So the company has some experience to draw upon for this technology.

Alone, I don't think the addition of wireless charging to new iPads -- and I'd expect any such charging covers only to work with new models -- to massively juice iPad sales. Combine the wireless charging with other updates, particularly a new, larger model, however, and Apple could see a stronger upgrade cycle.

There's a potential side-benefit with the approach too.

Apple has long sold its Smart Cover accessories to boost revenues. A newer, presumably more expensive, Smart Cover that adds wireless charging to iPads could increase accessory revenues. After all, if you're going to spend $39.99 for a Smart Cover, why not spend $59.99 for one with wireless charging capabilities?