For the most part, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Tim Cook has seemed opposed to launching an iPad larger than its current full-sized model with a 9.7-inch display. But as the company's technology evolves and rumors begin to surface, is there evidence Apple has opened up to the idea? Even more, is a plan to launch a larger iPad already in effect?
The trade-off debate
On several occasions Cook has criticized the trade-offs Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) had to make with its Surface. During Apple's Q4 2012 conference call, Cook didn't hold back his disapproval:
I haven't personally played with the Surface yet, but what we're reading about it is that it's a fairly compromised confusing product, and so I think one of the toughest things you do with deciding which product is to make hard trade off and decide what a product should be and we've really done that with the iPad, and so the user experience is absolutely incredible, I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats, but I don't think it would do all of those things very well.
The Surface was aimed right where tablets and PCs collide, a product type that is known as a convertible. Microsoft took the integration of tablets and PCs even further by developing an operating system that merged the two: Windows 8.
Cook's comments clearly indicated distaste for Microsoft's efforts on the Surface. Making the right trade-offs to focus on the consumer experience has always been Apple's strong spot, and Cook's feelings about the Surface's prospects seemed to be right: Midway through 2013, Microsoft took a $900 million writedown on its Surface inventory.
Is a larger iPad in the works?
But as technology and consumer tastes evolve, so do products. Is the time right for Apple to make a larger iPad, even if it threatens to blur the line between iPads and MacBooks? After all, Apple carries far more experience and a much better track record in hardware than Microsoft and could almost certainly create a far smoother bridge for consumers to the world of convertibles.
And if the latest updates from the rumor mill have any merit, we might not have to wait too long to find out whether Apple will succeed or not in the category.
"Apple's local first-tier display supplier is now producing a 12.9-inch Retina Display to be used in the new iPad, which will be coming out sometime early next year," an official from a local Apple supplier in Korea told Korea Times this week (via MacRumors).
Could Apple finally be poised to pursue a larger iPad? As I've pointed out previously, Apple's decision to bring 64-bit desktop-class architecture to its system on a chip so early in the game was one small indication that the company could be planning a foray into the category.
The Apple way
Of course, it's very unlikely Apple's path to the larger iPad would mirror Microsoft's approach in which the company merged so many aspects of laptops and tablets into one device -- especially after the Surface's failure to gain any meaningful traction in the tablet market. In fact, the new iPad could very well be nothing more than a larger iPad with a possible addition of an Apple-branded keyboard cover.
What do you think? Could Apple pull off a larger iPad successfully?