Is Apple planning the biggest, baddest iPad yet?

Apple CEO Tim Cook holds an iPad during a presentation at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California Oct. 16, 2014.

Apple CEO Tim Cook holds an iPad during a presentation at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California Oct. 16, 2014.  (REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

Apple may be preparing to bring out its biggest iPad yet, as it seeks to breathe new life into what had been one of its hottest products.  

With the iPad Mini relegated in Apple’s lineup to seeming also-ran status and iPad sales falling steadily, Apple has its eye on a 12.9-inch tablet, according to Rhoda Alexander, an analyst at market researcher IHS, which tracks tablet activity. 

“Our supply side (sources say) it’s a go for 2015,” Alexander told  

“The release timing is fuzzy. It may not appear until Q4 (fourth quarter) with the other iPad updates. We are, however, getting input from both the component and [product] side that this is a real product, and part of their 2015 building plan,” she wrote, in an email.  

If Apple follows through, that size would dwarf its largest tablet, the 9.7-inch iPad Air, and get very close to the size of the display on its 13-inch MacBook Pro and MacBook Air.  

This is not the first time that an analyst has talked about a jumbo-sized iPad.  Earlier this month, KGI Securities mentioned the large iPad in a report about declining iPad sales.

In that report, a KGI analyst said a 12.9-inch iPad could offer better “productivity,” according to 9to5Mac.  Productivity is analyst-speak for doing work on an iPad as opposed to watching videos or casual browsing.

And Apple CEO Tim Cook, in the company’s most recent earnings conference call in January, talked about the iPad’s future.  “Over the long arc of time the iPad is a great business,” he said.  “I also have visibility obviously of what’s in the pipeline and feel very, very good about that.” 

Part of that long arc is big business.  Apple has been focusing on large businesses, aka enterprises, as a new market for the iPad.  Cook mentioned in the January conference call that this presents an “opportunity” to “bring mobility into the enterprises and change how people work.” 

To do that, you need new apps.  To this end, Apple has been working with IBM on apps for business and in December Apple delivered the first 10 MobileFirst for iOS apps for banking, retail, insurance, airlines, among other applications.

Alexander sees business, as well as education, as markets that Apple may target. “Education and business are expected to be the key markets for the 12.9-inch product,” she said. 

Apple could succeed where others haven’t.  “It is worth noting that vendors on the Android side of the business have struggled to gain traction with 12-inch and larger slate tablets. Apple’s approach is experience oriented, so IHS expects the launch will be paired with a well-developed use case for the larger size, and new applications that take full advantage of the larger screen area,” she said. 

But there are other reasons, reportedly, to be on the lookout for a big iPad.  One of the most interesting bits of speculation is a rumored stylus. 

That would fly in the face of Steve Jobs well-known aversion to anything with a stylus.  

But Microsoft’s 12-inch Surface Pro 3 tablet (one of the largest tablets on the market) comes with a stylus, which makes it attractive to business users.  

Finally, Apple could use the large-tablet format to offer an eye-popping, high-resolution display, an Apple forte.

But now we’re getting into pure speculation.  We can only wait and see if Apple tries to reshape the tablet market later this year.  

Apple declined to comment on this story.