Amid growing rumors that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is working on its next-generation iPad, dubbed the “iPad 6,” with a larger screen size, an analyst said that such a device may not hit the market anytime soon.
According to Rhoda Alexander, an analyst at IHS, a number of larger display panels of different sizes -- that could be potentially suited for a larger iPad -- are currently being tested by display manufacturers. However, the volumes of the panels do not necessarily suggest that a product launch is around the corner.
“Some manufacturers over the last six months have received sample quantities of a larger panel. They're playing around with a product that could possibly be an iPad-related product,” Alexander told CNET Thursday. “Various sizes are being reported with 12.85 inches being one of the sizes.”
The iPad 6, rumored to have a larger display than the company’s existing 9.7-inch iPad Air, is seen as a potential competitor for Samsung’s (KRX:005935) new Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, which was showcased at the International CES in Las Vegas earlier this month.
However, Alexander said that there had not been any significant volume shipments of any of the larger panels, suggesting that there may not be a market for iPads larger than the 9.7-inch model just yet.
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“We have to get a lot further down the line in terms of seeing really strong indicators from Apple that such a product exists, and we're just not at that point,” Alexander said.
While Samsung is marketing the Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 as a business-friendly tablet, Alexander is skeptical about whether the larger iPad could attract consumers as a hybrid tablet-laptop.
“The usage model is not entirely clear at this point,” Alexander said. “Microsoft has indicated in the past that they're developing Office for the iPad. That's one application that if it came out, you could make an argument, OK, there's a use case where it would be useful to have a larger device.”
Earlier this month, Patrick Wang, an analyst at Evercore Partners, wrote a research report in which he said that Apple could launch a bigger 12-inch iPad by the end of this year. According to him, the “hybrid” device would help address the gap between tablets and notebooks, and would be targeted at enterprise users.
In December, Taiwan’s DigiTimes reported that Apple might release a 12.9-inch iPad in October 2014, adding that large-screen tablets could ultimately hurt the demand for ultrabook models.