The “If you see a stylus, they blew it” line that Steve Jobs famously used during the January 2007 iPhone introduction is about to get challenged in the post-Jobs era.
At least that’s what KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo proposed in his newly published note to clients.
Long story short, the analyst predicted that a rumored ‘iPad Pro,’ expected in late-2015, will include an optional in-house built stylus accessory as a niche product aimed at creative professionals.
Acknowledging that not all users will need a stylus initially, Kuo goes on to predict that Apple’s stylus as an optional accessory “will improve the user experience of 12.9-inch iPad.”
“Coupled with its unfavorable cost structure, high selling prices may turn consumers off if the 12.9-inch iPad is always bundled with it,” Kuo’s note reads. “We therefore expect the stylus to be an optional accessory before sufficient user feedback is received.”
Rather than cite supply checks as he normally does, Kuo instead points to Apple’s related patent applications as an indication that the company could be developing a stylus accessory of sorts.
Drawing below accompanies Apple’s 2010 patent application describing a haptic stylus accessory that would give a user a tactile feel for the content on a device’s screen through forces, vibrations and motions.
“An input device capable of generating haptic feedback may help a user navigate content displayed on the display screen, and may further serve to enhance the content of various applications by creating a more appealing and realistic user interface,” reads the description for an invention titled “Haptic Input Device” credited to engineers Aleksandar Pance and Omar Sze Leung.
Last December, Apple was awarded a patent for a “communicating stylus” device which would automatically transcribe handwritten notes into digital form by tracking its movement in three-dimensional space.
Kuo is calling for an accessory that would charge via a Lightning connector rather than rely on a more convenient and pricier wireless charging solution.
Future iterations of the stylus, he continues, could add new functionality such as an accelerometer for 3D handwriting capability allowing users to write on other surfaces or even in the air. The new device will launch in the second or third quarter of this year alongside the iPad Pro, the analyst projected.
Given that a stylus is included with Microsoft’s Surface Pro and considering the fact that third-party styluses such as FiftyThree’s Pencil (now available in Apple Stores) have proven popular, an Apple-branded stylus makes sense — not as a primary means of input, but more as a creative tool for illustrators, 3D artists, enterprise users and the like.
Last but not least, while Ming-Chi Kuo is more accurate than other Apple analysts, his prediction accuracy is about fifty percent. Couple that with the fact that Kuo’s talk of a stylus accessory is not based on supply checks and you have another murky rumor that may or may not come true.