By Kim Yoo-chul
Apple plans to introduce a 12.9-inch iPad next year to compete with its rivals Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics that have continued to release bigger tablets, sources said Tuesday. Currently, the biggest iPad is 9.8 inches.
The move is seen as the U.S. firm's effort to meet growing demand for bigger displays on smart devices amid a slowdown in conventional PC demand.
"Apple's local first-tier display supplier is now producing a 12.9-inch Retina Display to be used in the new iPad, which will be coming out sometime next year," an official at a local Apple supplier in Korea told The Korea Times by telephone Tuesday.
"That display is now being manufactured by the supplier's plant in Korea," he added.
The official said Apple is increasingly interested in introducing bigger iPads as the U.S.-based consumer electronics giant is already acknowledging that tablets will replace PCs in an era of convergence.
"The 12.9-inch iPad will have improved picture quality. As the Apple partner intends to boost its lineup for displays that have almost ultra high-definition (UHD) quality, the upcoming iPad will provide very clear quality similar to that of UHD," said the official.
The move comes after Samsung Electronics recently said it aims to become the world's biggest tablet supplier to build on its achievement in smartphones.
Officials at the Korea Display Industry Association (KDIA) said Samsung Display, a unit of Samsung Electronics, is developing OLED displays sized over 10 inches and 13 inches to be used in Samsung's upcoming Galaxy-branded tablets next year.
"By diversifying its tablet lineup, Samsung plans to significantly narrow differences with Apple in the race. Samsung believes it also can dethrone Apple in tablets as it did in smartphones," said an official at Samsung Electronics.
Strategy Analytics (SA), a market research firm, said Samsung sold 10 million tablets during the July-September period, helping it grab a 20.2-percent market share. For the first nine months of this year, Samsung sold 28 million tablets.
During the latest quarter, Apple's share was 27.1 percent. "It's the first time that Samsung narrowed the difference in share with Apple to within a single-digit," said the Samsung official.