Apple has scrapped plans to launch a 12.9-inch iPad Pro and next-generation iPad mini in 2014, according to Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities.
Instead, the analyst expects Apple to stick with an iPad Air model in 2014 that will utilise a faster A8 processor and Touch ID fingerprint sensor sometime in the third quarter of this year. iPad shipments for the year will fall in turn, with only one iPad launching, with 34 million units expected in the first half of 2014 and 30 million units in the second half of 2014, leading to the first decline in sales for the iPad in its history.
The new iPad Pro and third-generation iPad mini haven't been ditched completely, and instead, Apple is working on both behind closed doors to bring to market sometime in the future, according to the analyst. Kuo told investors he expected the iPad Pro to drive large amounts of growth to the company when it eventually launches, and that Apple will need to revise its iOS to take advantage of the larger screen.
Competitor Samsung beat Apple to the punch for the larger tablet market when it launched the 12-inch Galaxy Note Pro and Galaxy Tab Pro at CES 2014 in January. If the rumour does pan out, the 12.9-inch iPad will be the third tablet in Apple's line-up, alongside the 7.9-inch iPad mini and 10.1-inch iPad. The iPad Pro has been tipped to output a hefty 3840 x 2160 resolution, meaning 342ppi.
"If you look at the skills Apple has, from hardware to software to services and an incredible app ecosystem, this set of things are very, very unique," Apple CEO Tim Cook said about new product categories. "We obviously believe we can use our skills in building other great products that are in categories that represent areas that we do not participate today."
It's not clear if Cook was talking about the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, a tablet that could appeal to business users and media junkies.
Apple has held a lead in tablet market share since the iPad launch in 2010, with a 33.8 per cent share in Q4 2013, according to IDC research.
Kuo is a noted analyst, who has correctly pegged the launch of several Apple's products in 2013 and 2012.