Apple is said to be working on three tablets for 2017, including an iPad Pro with a new form factor.
iPads are one of the most popular tablets available in the market. They are available in three sizes: 7.9 inches, 9.7 inches and 12.9 inches. However, Ming-Chi Kuo, a noted analyst with KGI Securities, has released a report that suggests Apple is working on an iPad that will have a new size of 10.5 inches.
Kuo believes that Apple will launch the 10.5-inch iPad Pro along with a 9.7-inch iPad and a 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 sometime in 2017.
"We expect three new iPads (12.9" iPad Pro 2, new size 10.5" iPad Pro & low-cost 9.7" iPad) to be launched in 2017, though this may not drive shipment growth amid structural headwinds; 2017F shipments to fall 10-20 percent YoY," says Kuo.
Apple launched the 12.9-inch iPad Pro in September 2015, and it hit the shelves in November. Although the larger iPad can be used by individuals at home, it is mainly aimed at business customers.
"The new iPad Pro will enable a new generation of advanced apps for everything from productivity, design, illustration, engineering and medical, to education, gaming and entertainment," says Apple.
In comparison, Kuo believes that the 10.5-inch iPad model will be used mostly in education and commercial markets. The analyst also suggests that both the 10.5-inch iPad Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2 will feature the A10X processor. Meanwhile, the pocket-friendly 9.7-inch iPad model may come with an A9X chip.
It is also worth noting that Kuo's report does not mention anything about a refreshed 7.9-inch iPad mini, which means that either the analyst does not have any prediction for the smaller tablet or Apple may phase out the iPad mini in the near term.
Apart from the trio of iPads to be launched in 2017, Kuo also gives a glimpse of what to expect in 2018. The analyst says that roughly two years from now, iFans will witness big changes.
The analyst claims that Apple is likely to make "radical changes" in the iPads to be released in 2018. Customers should expect new form factors and flexible AMOLED screens in the iPads of 2018.
Kuo has also reduced his 2016 iPad shipment forecast from 45 to 50 million units to 35 to 40 million units. The conservative prediction is mainly due to the lack of new models launched in this year.
According to an International Data Corporation (IDC) report, the overall tablet shipment in Q2 2016 declined by about 12 percent in comparison to the same quarter of 2015, with Apple's overall tablet shipment during the quarter declining by 9 percent.
Kuo believes that this trend will impact the iPad's overall sales in the near term.