Apple Stylus Rumor: Taking Care of Business?

Apple will introduce a stylus to accompany its expected new, larger iPad, an analyst with a good scorecard in predicting Apple products wrote in a research note on Sunday.

Speculation about a 12.9-inch iPad Pro to be launched this year has been grist for the rumor mill for months, but the prediction of an Apple stylus is a new development.

The stylus would be sold separately and be a relatively barebones device, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote in a research note obtained by AppleInsider.

The stylus is notable by its absence of features. It won’t have a built-in gyroscope or accelerometer — which would be needed to turn handwritten notes into digital text on the tablet — and it will not have wireless charging, according to Kuo.

It will likely sell a paltry 2 million to 2.5 million units in 2015, he forecast, but it will be a hit in corporate and education markets.

Jobs Spurned?

Kuo is known for his accurate predictions about Apple products. He correctly revealed several iPad Air 2 features: its laminated, antireflective screen; gold color option; A8 processor; and iTouch fingerprint scanner.

He also foretold the latest upgrade to the iPad mini; leaked accurate info on the Apple Watch a month prior to its release; and aired the spec sheets for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus five months before they appeared.

However, his predictions usually are based on information from sources within Apple’s supply chain. That’s not the case with this note on the stylus, which is based on Kuo’s personal analysis of the market.

Although former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was vocal about his disdain for styluses — “If you see a stylus, they blew it,” he once said — it hasn’t stopped the company from filing patents since 2012 on a smart stylus called the “iPen.”

In addition, since Jobs’ death, a number of product ideas the founder rejected have materialized, most notably large smartphones and small tablets.

Changing Market

If Apple introduces a stylus, it will be in response to market conditions that have changed since Jobs introduced the iPad. When Jobs was alive, the iPad was focused almost exclusively on consumers. If a larger iPad is aimed at expanding the tablet’s appeal to other markets, such as business, then a stylus may be essential.

“One of the things that we’ve noticed with business is that tablets are often a clipboard replacement. They’re used for taking orders and filling out forms,” said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.

“If they’re doing a larger screen,” he said, “it is plausible that they could be working on a stylus,” he told TechNewsWorld. That said, “if they were doing something in a stylus, it would have to be tied directly to the iPad in ways that the competition can’t.”

If Apple were to introduce a stylus, it probably would be sold separately, because “there’s a significant amount of people who could care less about a stylus,” added Bajarin.

Growing Possibility

“If you asked me two years ago about Apple introducing a stylus, I would have said ‘no way,'” said independent mobile devices analyst Michael Morgan, “but the possibility increases every year further away from Steve Jobs that we get.”

Powerful graphics desktop programs are being moved to the cloud so they’ll work on tablets, he pointed out. That will advance Apple’s desire to make the iPad a content creation as well as content consumption device.

“If the tablet becomes a content creation device, the stylus will be a nice addition to that,” Morgan told TechNewsWorld.

It wouldn’t be a nice addition if, as Kuo reported, the stylus were just a dumb plastic stick.

“I would be shocked if they put out a dumb stylus,” Morgan observed. “That would be incredibly bad news for Apple to take that approach.”

In some quarters, what’s more surprising than Apple’s plan to introduce a stylus is that it has taken so long to come around.

“Since Apple is closely connected to the artistic world, it always seemed unusual that they would lag this badly with a technology that would be attractive to that world,” observed Rob Enderle, president and principal analyst with the Enderle Group.

“It looks like they’re going to close that particular gap,” he told TechNewsWorld, “and become competitive in a market that prefers them anyway.”

John Mello is a freelance technology writer and contributor to Chief Security Officer magazine. You can connect with him on Google+.

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