The United Daily News of Taiwan is reporting a rumor that Apple is working with Quanta Computer on a new version of the iPad. But this isn't another interesting leak about the upcoming iPad refresh, where we expect to see a new skinnier tablet and an iPad Mini that may sport a retina screen. The new rumor says Apple is planning a really big iPad. As in 12-inches big.
There have been a few earlier suggestions that Apple has been looking at the next iteration of the iPad, and that it would be big. Though the new rumor doesn't really add any detail, 9to5Mac points out it does come from a major news source, one that's local to the company in question--Quanta--and it does tally with the previous rumors. Even more interesting is the point that Apple was looking at prototypes with a screen size up to 13 inches during the protracted development phase of the iPad. Apple actually stopped working on the iPad at an advanced development phase in order to pursue a new device that suddenly had more urgency: the iPhone.
So this is the tiniest of tiny rumors. But let's run with it for a moment, and see where it takes us...because a 13-inch iPad makes great sense. Apple's been touting the iPad as a content creation solution right from the start, and many businesses have embraced the device as great for mobile computing. But a bigger screen would certainly help with that role. It would also appeal to users who desire a bigger screen--perhaps photographers. A bigger chassis on the iPad would allow Apple to add in more powerful chips (due to more volume to waste heat into) and also a far bigger battery for yet more impressive battery life.
The company has just surprised everyone with the 64-bit CPU of the iPhone 5S and matching 64-bit version of the iOS operating system...a combo that even Apple says matches desktop computing power. This move, some think, may hint that Apple really is aligning its mobile OS and its traditional desktop OS more than ever...to the point we may see ARM chips powering a future Mac instead of Intel ones.
And for precedent, think about the MacBook Air. In many ways its hardware is like an iPad with a 13-inch screen mated to more sophisticated chips and a traditional keyboard and trackpad. In fact the Air lacks some of the built-in capabilities of the iPad, because it doesn't have onboard 4G, GPS, or the motion and compass sensor suite of the iPad. Separately, Apple's long been rumored to be looking at a touchscreen Mac...and has even patented some clever folding stands for an iMac-like machine with this sort of display. A flat 12- or 13-inch iPad wouldn't need that sort of extra hardware.
So here's an idea: What if Apple's "touchscreen Mac" really is just a big iPad? It could sell like crazy, even at a price premium, especially to enterprise customers who have already fallen for the iPad but want something with a bit more power. This is, after all, an area Microsoft thinks is worth targeting with its Surface 2.
This is all just some back-of-the-envelope scribbling on my part. It's just an idea. But you can bet someone at Cupertino has already had one just like it, and gone much further in exploring the possibilities.
[Image via Flickr user: Ken]