Typically, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) likes to introduce new features and technological innovations into the iPhone first, before potentially bringing those new features to other devices like the iPad. Needless to say, this makes plenty of sense since the iPhone has long been the company's most important product by far. It goes to reason that after launching 3D Touch on the iPhone 6s that Apple would look to bring the pressure-sensitive displays to the iPad family.
But it might take a little bit longer than you think.
3D Touch will have to wait
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has released a fresh research note on the next-generation iPad Air 3, and the analyst does not expect 3D Touch to make it to Apple's family of tablets anytime soon. The supply chain produced enough components to avoid shortages, but his checks suggest that demand has been modest.
Meanwhile, yields continue to improve, which is now leading to relatively high levels of inventory. The analyst estimates that the 3D Touch supply chain is only running at 30% of its peak capacity utilization.
While Kuo doesn't mention any technical challenges, there should expectedly be some hurdles that Apple faces with implementing 3D Touch on such a dramatically larger display.
3D Touch can wait
It's no secret that Apple's iPad business has hit something of a speed bump over the past couple of years, through no fault of Apple's. Rather, the entire tablet market is still trying to figure out what an appropriate timeline is for the upgrade cycle. More than likely, it will end up being somewhere between the two-year iPhone upgrades and the five- to seven-year Mac upgrades.
But at the same time, Apple will still need to continue innovating and adding new features to provide a meaningful reason to upgrade, in addition to the requisite performance boosts and spec upgrades. It's unclear whether or not 3D Touch can even accomplish this. The new interface method has only been in the market for a couple of months, and investors haven't even seen a full quarter's worth of results to see how well the iPhone 6s is actually selling.
I'll admit, I was pleasantly surprised at how well Apple sold the feature, even after the rumor mill had tipped it off months in advance. Yet, after using it for a few months since launch, 3D Touch is by no means a "must-have" feature that can drive sales and upgrades on its own. I personally sometimes forget to even use it, even in the ideal usage scenarios that Apple presents.
It will be completely fine if Apple takes its time in bringing 3D Touch to the iPad. For now, the larger iPad Pro will be the real test on whether a new feature like a larger display can start driving sales. Besides, I'd rather Apple focus on bringing Touch ID to the Mac first.
Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.