Apple may have spared itself some embarrassment

A rumored 12-inch iPad has reportedly been scuttled, a smart move because large tablets are not popular.

Guessing Apple's next move is sport for many people, and one of the current guesses for Apple was a large-size screen aimed at enterprise users. Now it's looking like that device will never see the light of day, which was a smart move.

People speculated on the existence of the "iPad Pro" due to clues coming from Apple's parts suppliers, who dropped hints of a 12.9-inch tablet that would compete with the Samsung Galaxy Note PRO 12.2. However, Taiwan-based DigiTimes reports the iPad Pro isn't coming. It has been shelved. Now granted, DigiTimes can be hit or miss, but in this case, it's probably a safe assumption that Apple won't release such a large tablet.

Why? Because no one wants them. IDC's tablet tracker makes this painfully obvious. The trend line is toward smaller, under 8-inch tablets. The larger ones, like the 9.7-inch models of the current iPad and Samsung Galaxy Note, are fading out. DigiTimes has its own market research arm and puts Galaxy Note Pro sales at just one million units for all of 2014. Apple sells that many iPads in a week.

These user patterns are not new. One of the first adopters of the Kindle were women, who found it easy to toss the small device in their purse and carry it with them. NPD told me this time and again. Lately, I'm seeing the pattern expand to men, who carry phablets and small tablets like the iPad Mini in coat pockets.

That's how I'm seeing iPad Mini and small Android tablets used in business today as well. The appeal is that they are easy to carry and not a notebook. Once you get into a 12.2-inch screen, you might as well use a laptop and then have access to all that Windows software.

That's why the Kindle DX, with its 9.7-inch screen and hefty 18.9 ounces, never went anywhere. It was too big and bulky. I've seen plenty of people out with regular Kindles, but never once saw a DX in public. For a while, it languished, until Amazon attempted to breathe new life into it, cutting the price from $379 to $239 last year.

The fact is the appeal of tablets and smartphones is that they are not laptops. Small, convenient, easy to carry and lightweight, they are meant to be truly portable devices. So it seems obvious to me Tim Cook and company read the tea leaves and saw that there is no market for this. If people want a 12-inch Apple device, they can just buy a MacBook Air and be done with it.

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