Why a 12-inch iPad is Almost Certain

| Editorial

The iPad must evolve into new, future markets.
Image credit: Paramount

Why do people stand in line every year for a new iPhone? Why is iPhone technology changing so fast? Conversely, why are iPad sales more or less ho-hum? Why isn't iPad technology exploding? I want to reflect on that situation.


When I think about the success of the iPad, I think about how the iPad vision provided what average people really needed to do on a computing device. In other words, the standard PC had become too complex and too capable. The hardware along with Microsoft Windows evolved so that businesses could run databases, Computer Aided Design (CAD) apps, the full Photoshop, architectural design apps and IDEs/compilers/cevelopment tools to name a few.

The ability run all these kinds of apps forced a certain kind of design that the average user didn't need. The consumer found that what they wanted to be able to shop, browse, read books, watch Netflix, play games, check their email, manage their Facebook page, and often, little more.  And they wanted to do it all with great security and minimum fuss with backups. The iPad distilled the essence of what we need to do on a casual basis, and that drove its initial popularity through the roof.

However, if the popularity of the iPad was derived from its limitations, then how can it grow beyond that?

The Secret to Growth

The iPhone is a little different. It's size means that it's always attached to us. We have it with us when we go out for gas, we have it on our night stand (perhaps) when we goto bed. Because it is always with us, it needs to and can do many more things. That means that the opportunities for technical growth are there thanks to personal needs, like health monitoring. It's also our immediate connection to voice, messages and our social sphere. Plus, because it's always with us, it's a status symbol. People see us using it all the time in public. Not so much with iPads. That's why an iPhone with sapphire display is so attractive. The iPhone is virtually jewelry. And a symbol of who we are. And so we ask a lot of it.

If the iPad is going to flourish, it has to expand in its capability and that means being adopted in broader markets. Instead of simply being a consumer window into the Internet, it has to eventually be the heavy lifter of our lives. In turn, that means the software has to evolve and the displays have to get bigger, just as the smartphone evolved into larger displays to meet our needs.

When I can do everything I need to do on a 12-inch iPad with multiple windows that is, in turn, connected a Bluetooth keyboard and a 27-inch LED display with yet more windows, and I can get all my work done, then the days of the Mac may be numbered.

I think Apple is approaching this very slowly and very carefully, and introducing new capabilities on an incremental basis. That way, the company can see where the market is headed.

A Vision Gone Wrong

Microsoft has a glimmer of this. Their ads say that their Surface Pro is "the tablet that can replace your laptop." But I think they're going about in the wrong way, the effort is premature, and the company is trying to artificially force the issue. (That's another article entirely.)

To be brief, however, one thing Microsoft is doing is focusing on the "work" aspects of the power in the Surface and forgetting that, first and foremost, a tablet must be a personal tool that's fun and charming to use. That so-called work should, in fact, develop not as dreary "productivity" but as creativity.

It's like comparing the paintbrush used to paint a house and the paintbrush used to create art. One is just a dumb tool, and it's sweaty work; the other in the right hands creates masterpieces, often of great value. The Microsoft Surface is a paintbrush for houses, not a canvas.

I predict that as iOS becomes more capable and the iPad displays become larger, and as more markets are opened up, like the military (mapping), aviation, real estate, hotel management, education, design and engineering, research, point of sale, and so on, the spark of evolution will reignite. Then the floodgates of technical change will open as the iPad once and for all completely cannibalizes the PC. And maybe even the Mac.

This renewed evolution is going to require patience and close attention to the consumer and professional mentality and market acceptance. (Hence the partnership with IBM.) Microsoft is trying to force the issue derived from a bit of panic and market envy. Apple will take its time with iPad evolution and do it right, even if that means a temporary lull in sales growth.

Popular TMO Stories


Special Ed

Not a bad comment, but I think a lot of people already understate the functionality of the iPad as it is. 

I’m an IT consultant, focusing on the Microsoft world.  More and more every day, I’m discovering that almost everything I can do on my laptop, I can already do on my iPad.  I can RDP into servers, make changes, create and edit Office documents, connect to VPN’s to make changes to systems, etc.  There are of course limitations, but there aren’t as many as your article implies. 

Most of the processes that you pointed out that require the heavy lifting (db, CAD etc), are not really designed to be mobile apps anyway.  You can run them on a laptop yes, but you would prefer to have the bigger screens that a desktop environment provides.  The processing power is there on the ipad already.  What’s missing is the multiple windows environment that multiple screens provide real estate to show.  I think we’ll see multi-monitor support enabled very soon on the iPad.

I already have an adapter to connect my screen to an HDMI display. So screen size is only limited by the screen i’m connecting to. Once I can connect to multiple screens, I’m ready for some of those heavier apps to run on the iPad. 

I already have my BT keyboard.  My only wish is that sometimes I want a mouse too.  I think that isn’t far away.  I wouldn’t be surprised if someone tells me how to do it in response to this. 

Whats going to happen is the iPad, and tablets like it, will become the laptop of yesteryear.  I’ll walk into an office, plug my tablet into a generic HDMI connection, and off we go. The processing power is already there.  They just need to enable the functions in iOS.


Yeah. BT keyboard is good but why doesn’t Might Mouse work??

Hel-lo !!  This ought to be easy, Apple.


“I think Apple is approaching this very slowly and very carefully, and introducing new capabilities on an incremental basis.”

I think you are correct, John. I bought the iPad 3 and thought it pretty good but it did not fit a number of my needs. Media consumption was great—music, audio books, ebooks, video, movies, YouTube vids which all link through iCloud & iTunes to my iPad, iPt., apps galore for needs I didn’t know I had (I like to follow moon phases, see constellations etc, who’d a thought). But in all these cases, my iPod touch sufficed, though the mini would better both iPad3 and touch for me.

Where all pads/touch fail is with information, retrieval and storage and writing. I have areas of study, new physics, philosophy, evolution/locality of mind, and anything that challenges the second Dark Age, of which we are approaching its centennial. “Take that Einstein!”


Part II:
my emoji failed and flushed what was supposed to end my post.
<—don’t know if my emoji will appear smile— it didn’t

For this task the MB reigns supreme. The only time it is less capable is book reading and media at leisure (in bed, lounging outdoors, hiding from house duties) and my moon fixation—the Neverland of apps.
I cannot see my needs ever being met on one machine. But then I do not have access to Apple’s crystal ball.
Namaste and care,


Nice article.

Not much to add except that I’m kinda dying over here waiting for multi-screen functionality on my iPad.  I want to listen to a YouTube clip while I composing a letter, fer cryin’ out loud!  How tough could that possibly be?

Go ahead, Apple: make my day.  smile


its called market saturation that why sales are not sky rocketing. all the vendors are seeing this not just apple.
No one needs and iPad, for most people an iPhone will do just fine.

Paul Goodwin

When it becomes the 12” “heavy lifter” it won’t be an iPad, it’ll be a next gen MBA. Apple zeroed in on the perfect form factor for the iPad., and it does what it’s designed to do magnificently. I see no need for a one-machine do-it-all, but that’s just me. I don’t need to cart a single machine around for work that needs to be a work machine and an iPad substitute. Very few things that are multi-functional flexible are the best at doing any of the things they are capable of. That’s why we have sports cars, vans, SUVs, station wagons and pickup trucks. Successful Tri-service aircraft have never been realized (F-35 jury is still out). Sure, Apple could probably sell some, but I don’t believe a 12” iPad would ever displace the current size. For one, you couldn’t fit it in a purse. That’s no loss for me, but for female iPad owners it probably is. Not sure I’d like having a 12” iPad on my lap. The 9.7” screen at 12” away is plenty big (for me). I personally like having an iPad and an iMac. They’re both excellent at what they do.

Gareth Harris

While I do agree John, that M$ is floundering with the Surface, I still maintain the the ultimate home of the iPad, especially larger versions, is to replace clipboards, hanging files and traveling documents at work. How long before every truck has a 13” iPad in the cab?

Each size of iPad has a different market niche - 7”, 10”, 13”
Besides my iPhone 5, I often carry my iPad mini to meetings and coffee discussions. I see the larger iPad, 10 or 13, homing in on factory floors, shipping docks, hospitals, etc.  And delivery vehicles.


Microsoft had a very fragile springboard to reach the general public with the Surface Pro 3. There was encouraging interest in the form factor and capability.  Techies gave them a chance, but the glitches were too severe to willingly bring into the enterprise. Sheeple gave them a chance, but the glitches immediately overwhelmed the “ooh-shiny” moment. The sheeple asked the Techies “WTF?” and the answer was, “Meh…” So that was that.

I saw hundreds of Surface Pro 2’s and now 3’s… Returns, stacked up like cord-wood in BestBuy’s throughout Northern VA.  Seems like the only people who keep them are either lucky, or fix glitches for fun because IT skills attract hot girls…  NO, sorry, that should be hot Surface Pro’s attract cats.

I intend to buy a Surface Pro 3 as soon as I can save up the scratch. I am hell bent to eliminate paper, and frankly, capacitive fingers-only input doesn’t cut it. Dull rubber crayons don’t help. Palm rejection is a broken afterthought. Pope Jobs got this dead-pig-headedly wrong. It is totally human nature to mark things with purposefully, precisely sharpened sticks.

Log in to comment (TMO, Twitter or Facebook) or Register for a TMO account