KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted in a note issued to clients Wednesday, a copy of which was obtained by AppleInsider, that Apple’s 12.9-inch ‘iPad Pro’ will be entering mass production in September or October of this year.
The device will feature an optional Apple-made stylus accessory, sold separately, with built-in Force Touch support.
The stylus itself will be assembled by manufacturer Cheng Uei on an exclusive basis, the analyst believes. If true, it would mark an interesting departure from Apple’s standard practice of sourcing components from multiple suppliers to minimize risk and exposure.
The stylus accessory will be sold separately, Kuo believes, and will feature Force Touch support to make navigating the device’s large screen easier and help customers draw curves and other shapes naturally in specialized applications.
Interestingly, no longer is the analyst calling Force Touch a marquee feature but “an evolution, rather than a revolution.”
Kuo, who has a good track record for predicting upcoming Apple products, went on to write that the iPad Pro will use the same Force Touch structure that he expects to see on iPhones with next month’s release of the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus. Due to the larger screen size of the iPad Pro, however, Force Touch on the rumored tablet could be held back by a poor yield rate.
“This is why we think a stylus may be necessary to make Force Touch work properly on the 12.9” iPad,” he wrote. “We also believe a Force Touch-enabled stylus will enhance productivity as it would offer more precise operation than using only fingers.”
Apple could make its stylus compatible with iPad models other than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro, “but it depends on the support of software,” he added. Conveniently enough, iOS 9 was discovered to include a brand new predictive touch technology that should prove indispensable for accurate stylus input.
Kuo estimates that Apple could ship as many as 3.5 million units of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro this year. “Being an optional accessory,” Kuo expects Apple to sell about a million styli by year-end.
“As it’s a brand new product, and given the market buzz, we expect Force Touch-enabled stylus to serve as a share catalyst for related plays, including the main beneficiary, Cheng Uei, which is the sole assembler of the stylus,” he wrote.
Again, Kuo thinks the iPad Pro will enter mass production by October, meaning Apple could unveil the device along with the stylus at a rumored media event next month.
The iPad Pro should feature an Apple-designed “A9” system-on-a-chip with 2GB of RAM, stereo speakers and a 2,732-by-2,048 pixel screen measuring 12.2 or 12.9 inches diagonally, among other things.
iPad Pro with Apple stylus mockup by 3D artist Martin Hajek.