Steve Jobs' famous proclamation that "if you see a stylus, they blew it" may not be as unshakable a mantra as the former Apple CEO imagined. Apple is likely to introduce a stylus alongside a larger version of the iPad with a 12.9-inch display, according to an analyst with a solid track record. KGI Securities' Ming-chi Kuo, in a note reported on by AppleInsider, says his own research alongside numerous Apple patent filings have led him to believe that the pen will arrive in the second quarter of this year.
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Kuo says the stylus will probably be an optional accessory so as not to bump up the base price of the "iPad Pro." The analyst expects the first iteration of the stylus to be relatively simple in technical terms, with the possibility for additional sensors to enable "3D handwriting" further down the line. Kuo also thinks the pen will be charged with a Lightning connector, as wireless options have implications for cost and antenna design. It's not clear whether the stylus would be compatible with other iPad models.
"We believe that the stylus could improve the experience of users."
The stylus will be positioned as a way to improve the iPad user experience rather than a major revenue driver in its own right, Kuo believes. "We don't foresee significant sales of an optional stylus in 2015 and forecast unit shipments of 2-2.5 million," he writes. "But we believe that the stylus could improve the experience of users, however, and will likely help Apple develop specific customer groups such as the corporate sector and educational institutions." It's easy to see how an officially integrated Apple stylus could help the company and others develop new productivity-focused enterprise apps, for example, like those it's working on with IBM.
Why should we believe anything Kuo says? Well, the analyst has a knack of predicting Apple product features that eventually come to pass. Ahead of the last iPad event, for instance, Kuo correctly foretold that the iPad Air 2 would feature a laminated screen with an anti-reflective coating; a gold color option; an A8 processor; and a Touch ID fingerprint scanner. None of this required him to go out on a limb, exactly, but he did also nail the event's biggest surprise — the very minor update to the iPad mini. The month before saw him leak accurate Apple Watch information. And earlier in the year Kuo issued a report with essentially the entire spec sheets of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus five months before their official reveal.
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All of this is to say that the man tends to be pretty plugged in to what Apple has coming up. This latest report doesn't appear to have much connection to the supply chain, instead relying on Kuo's individual research and Apple's various patents, so there's a chance he could have missed the mark this time. But the prospect of an official Apple stylus seems a lot more believable today — and at the very least, Kuo's report serves as a reminder that we may well see a larger iPad as well as a new 12-inch MacBook this year.