Apple had been planning to introduce its largest iPad so far—a 12.9-inch model—early in 2015 so it could work to reinvigorate its sagging iPad sales, but that effort has now been pushed back to September due to supply shortages of the larger display screens to be used in the new devices.
The supply problems were revealed in a March 4 report by Bloomberg, based on interviews with unnamed sources who said they are familiar with the situation. Apple originally had planned to begin producing the larger iPads this quarter. Apple's display suppliers include Sharp, Japan Display and LG Display, the Bloomberg story reported.
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the reported delays when contacted by eWEEK.
Meanwhile, a March 4 report by The Wall Street Journal said that production of the larger iPad is also being delayed by last-minute features that are being pondered for the devices, including faster charging and the addition of first-time-ever USB 3.0 ports and capabilities to make data backups easier for users. Previous iPads were not equipped with USB ports.
Back in October 2014, reports surfaced that the rumored 12.9-inch iPads were being delayed at that time because Apple's manufacturing partners were so busy churning out the then-new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices for Apple that they couldn't immediately switch over to build the new bigger iPads, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The larger iPads were originally slated to be built in large quantities starting in December 2014, but the plans had to be delayed until 2015.
The larger iPad has been discussed as a device that could help lure more business users to the iPad fold, increasing Apple's iPad sales. Part of that could come from a business partnership that Apple entered into with IBM in July 2014 that aims to bring together the products and services of both companies—including Apple's iPads and IBM's applications and global sales and support—to serve new and existing customers. In November 2014, Apple also unveiled its first formal AppleCare for Enterprise service offerings to provide direct and specialized support to enterprise technology users.
Rumors about a larger, 12.9-inch iPad have been circulating since at least August 2014 when reports appeared claiming that component and parts suppliers were gearing up to produce the needed inventory to start production of the devices, according to an earlier eWEEK story.
Current iPad models come in a 9.7-inch screen size or in an iPad mini format with a 7.9-inch screen.
Tablet sales have been slowing around the globe, with worldwide tablet shipments down nearly 36 percent in the first quarter of 2014, compared with the fourth holiday-benefiting quarter of 2013, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Those figures came from research firm IDC, which said that tablet sales for the first quarter grew just 4 percent over the same period in 2013. The slowdown was felt across screen sizes and operating systems, according to the company.
Apple's upcoming and long-awaited smartwatch, Apple Watch, is slated for release in April. The company will hold a special event on March 9, when it will likely provide more details about the upcoming Watch. The company sent invitations, which included the simple message, "spring forward," to media outlets on Feb. 26, along with location details for the event, which will be held at 1 p.m. ET at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Theater, according to reports.
Apple Watch was announced in September 2014 at an Apple new product event, along with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The Apple Watch screen is controlled by touch, by arm movement and by the "crown"—the circular wheel button on the side that traditionally was used to wind a watch. The watch, which must be used with an iPhone to get full usability, can do everything a smartphone or laptop can do, just on a smaller scale.