IHS cautious about Apple's push for large iPad

Market research firm IHS is uncertain how real a so-called iPad Pro is at the moment -- despite the fact that Samsung is readying a large tablet for the business market.

Brooke Crothers Former CNET contributor
Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.
Brooke Crothers
2 min read
iPad Mini, iPad Air, and iPad 4: Is there a market for a larger iPad? Josh Miller/CNET

How probable is a large iPad? Not probable enough for market researcher IHS to take seriously -- yet.

Ostensibly larger than Apple's current 9.7-inch iPad Air, a laptop-size iPad display could conceivably compete with Samsung's Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 shown at the Consumer Electronics Show -- which the South Korean company is marketing as its most business-friendly tablet.

But it's all very iffy right now, according to Rhoda Alexander, IHS' director of tablet and monitor research.

"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," she told CNET in a phone interview.

"Various sizes are being reported with 12.85 inches being one of the sizes," she said.

But IHS is not factoring it into its forecast at the moment. "We have not seen volume shipments yet of any panels," she said. "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."

She also questioned how viable the market is for an iPad larger than the current 9.7-inch Air.

"When this [rumored] product was first discussed, it was said that there were requests from the education market, which I think shows a lack of understanding about how that market works. Those products have to qualify over years. Most of the education market is still using the iPad 2," she said.

And it is even less clear about whether it could morph into a hybrid tablet-laptop.

"What's the argument for it? 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."

NPD DisplaySearch has been posting research notes over the last few months that speculate about the arrival of a 12.9-inch iPad.

Samsung's 12.2-inch Galaxy Tab Pro.
Samsung's 12.2-inch Galaxy Tab Pro. Sarah Tew/CNET