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iPad Pro Rumor Comes Up for Air

Rumors of a larger-screen iPad ‘Pro’ have been floating around since early this year. Most of them have suggested variations on a supposed 12.9-inch screen size. As soon as they rise, though, they’re buried by another news wave. The latest to surface is areport in the Japanese tech blog macotakara.

The upcoming iPad Pro reportedly will have a 12.2-inch screen and not the more widely rumored 12.9-inch screen.

In addition, the iPad Pro will be thicker than an iPhone 6 but thinner than an iPhone 6 Plus — and definitely thicker than the current iPad Air 2. Most other design features will be similar to the iPad Air 2, but the Pro version may have speakers capable of stereo playback.

Although the Japanese-language site seems to label the post as a “rumor,” it claims the information comes from a “reliable source” who remains unnamed.

Repetition vs. Truth

Therein lies the usual trouble with tech rumors. The source could be reporting on some discarded casing of a prototype. The source could work for a display provider that produces screens in a 12.2-inch size, and this effort could be an elaborate move to cast attention to some other company entirely.

Or the site could have decided to nudge the conversation along — if not for traffic, then perhaps in the hope of generating interest in a ‘Pro’ version to help influence Apple in that direction.

The point is, after a rumor is repeated dozens, if not hundreds, of times online, it seems to take on a new measure of validity that it may or may not deserve. Still, U.S.-based Apple rumor site AppleInsider notes that macotakara “has at times unearthed details about Apple’s future product designs that turn out to be fairly accurate.”

That said, widely cited Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, who has a pretty good track record, has been reporting to his investors that Apple has had a 12.9-inch iPad in development for quite some time.

Meanwhile, Enterprise iPad Sales Are Coming

What makes the macotakara rumor interesting is that it bucks the 12.9-inch screen size rumor trend. Because the size is different, might it have a nugget of truth? Hard to say, but the timing of a larger iPad Pro for early 2015 seems like a smart timetable for Apple.

This year, the iPad Air 2 will see a boost through holiday sales. At the same time, the first sets of iOS apps created by the collaboration between IBM and Apple will start hitting the market, which should goose some enterprise iPad sales.

IBM, by the way, will be able to sell the iPad directly into its enterprise accounts. A new iPad ‘Pro’ version rumor picks up steam when you think about what it might mean for IBM selling more iPads into the enterprise.

Right now, Apple might dominate enterprise tablet sales, but overall penetration into corporate accounts still leaves a lot of room for sales growth. One of the most effective ways to do that would be to remove as much doubt around the suitability of an iPad for replacing laptops for enterprise-oriented apps and tasks as possible.

A larger-screened iPad ‘Pro’ model fills the bill.

Time to Freshen Up

The current 9.7-inch iPad has been the largest offered by Apple since its introduction in 2010. Apple has produced the smaller iPad mini, of course, but never one larger. Creating a larger option and pointing it toward productivity seems like both a natural extension of the iPad and an easy win with enterprise sales.

Besides, if Apple created its own keyboard case or cover option, it would go a long way toward neutralizing the form-factor criticisms when comparing the iPad to the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 or the Lenovo Yoga 3 convertible touchscreen PC.

Microsoft has chosen to take on the MacBook Air instead of the iPad with its bassackwards ad campaigns, but a larger, more powerful iPad ‘Pro’ would swing the attention of a buyer who is considering which form factor to buy into for mobile work.

Fundamentally, I’d rather be selling a tablet device (iPad Pro) that can do more robust work than a PC that can morph into a fat tablet. A larger iPad Pro would bring the best promise of a great tablet experience and merge it with the tantalizing promise of getting more done.

If It’s True

If the rumor of a larger iPad Pro is true — never mind the difference between 12.9 and 12.2 inches — the confidence of Apple CEO Tim Cook attributing the slowdown in iPad sales to a “speed bump” becomes much more believable.

Apple wouldn’t have to rely so much on new markets and IBM apps to drive rising sales, as plenty of existing iPad fans would have a reason to buy into the iPad line once again.

Chris Maxcer

TechNewsWorld columnist Chris Maxcer has been writing about the tech industry since the birth of the email newsletter, and he still remembers the clacking Mac keyboards from high school -- Apple's seed-planting strategy at work. While he enjoys elegant gear and sublime tech, there's something to be said for turning it all off -- or most of it -- to go outside. To catch him, take a "firstnamelastname" guess at WickedCoolBite.com. You can also connect with him on Google+.

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