According to a new report by KGI, Apple will soon introduce a stylus accessory for its iPad products, targeted at the expected (but still officially unconfirmed) larger-screened ~12 inch iPad Pro. Both products are quoted for release sometime this year, with KGI most recently quoting a Q2 launch window. The stylus would apparently charge using a Lightning cable.
Although KGI reports tend to be based off of supply-chain sources, which have proven very reliable in the past, Ming-Chi Kuo does not allude to any such indicators for the stylus prediction report. Instead, he highlights a number of patent filings in recent years by Apple on tablet styli and a need to differentiate the upcoming more premium iPad aside from screen size.
According to Kuo, the stylus would be available as an optional accessory, as the cost of the stylus would increase the ticket price of the iPad too much to warrant bundling in to the box. This makes sense given that iOS has been predicated on finger-sized touch input since its inception in 2007. It’s not clear whether the stylus would be compatible with older iPad models, but it certainly appears that it will be presented as a professional add-on for the larger iPad. Kuo predicts that Apple may begin bundling the accessory in future iPad hardware revisions if it proves popular.
Although this quote is a few years old, and obviously different people are in charge of Apple product marketing today, it is still worth noting that Steve Jobs was not a public fan of styluses. When the iPhone was unveiled he derided the input mechanism as clunky and easily lost. Around the launch of the original iPad, he also famously proclaimed ‘If you see a stylus, they blew it’.
Interpret that as you will. Personally, there is a big difference between supporting hardware styluses and requiring them to use the product. As an optional accessory, it is pretty clear that Apple’s offering will be more of a niche purchase, with finger-based input remaining the primary interaction paradigm, with the stylus assisting activities like note-taking and drawing when appropriate.
What do you think? Are tablet styluses a useful accessory option? Many third-party companies offer rudimentary stylus accessories today, although none seem to have had widespread uptake. An Apple-branded stylus would definitely help adoption, of course.