As far back as May 2013 there were rumors of "Apple working on a Larger iPad for the Education Market." This same rumor resurfaced again in December 2013. Then during Apple's latest financial conference call, Apple's CEO Tim Cook showed that he was deadly focused on advancing the iPad and hinted that significant innovation was on the way. With so much focus on the iPad, Bloomberg has decided to resurrect the long standing rumor even though it's based on razor thin information.
A Rumor as thin as the iPad Air
Bloomberg is reporting today that Apple "suppliers are preparing to manufacture the company's largest-ever iPad, with production scheduled to commence by the first quarter of next year, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The new iPad will have a screen measuring 12.9 inches diagonally, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren't public. Apple currently produces iPads with 9.7-inch and 7.9-inch displays. The Cupertino, California-based company has been working with suppliers for at least a year to develop a new range of larger touch-screen devices, said the people."
Although this latest rumor is the weakest that I've seen on this matter to date, there are issues that are beginning to boil over in the education market that may push Apple to dust off one of their hybrid device patents in order to comply with the Education market's Common Core rules demanding that all students must be able to use a full keyboard (not virtual) to pass tests.
Earlier today L.A. Unified, the second largest school system in the U.S., officially cancelled a one billion dollar contract with Apple for iPads. Schools Superintendent John Deasy made comment that by ending the contract with Apple that they'd be able to take advantage of an ever-changing marketplace and technology advances.
Even the CEO of Best Buy recently noted that tablet sales were down while hybrid notebook-tablets were on the rise as consumers were upgrading their devices.
This is why a 12.9 inch or larger iPad would be an ideal candidate for such a hybrid device for both education and the enterprise markets, especially with IBM promoting iOS specific apps for Apple's iPad.
It would be a device that would be able to blur the lines with traditional notebooks and satisfy buyers who really want both a notebook and tablet. Theoretically the availability of an Apple hybrid could go a long way in advancing these market sectors while keeping Apple competitive in the quickly changing educational market.
Whether we'll be reporting on this same rumor again in 2015 for an elusive 2016 release is anyone's guess. Yet this time around, market pressures may just be enough to force Apple to start pushing this kind of device up their food chain and to market a little quicker.