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In brief: A foldable iPad is set to arrive earlier than anticipated according to one noted Apple analyst. TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a series of tweets that there might not be a new iPad released in the next 9-12 months. Apple's iPad mini refresh is likely to enter mass production in the first quarter of 2024, he added.
Should this scenario come to fruition, it wouldn't be surprising to see year-over-year iPad shipments decline by up to 15 percent.
The 2023 iPad drought would pave the way for an all-new model sporting a foldable design to debut sometime next year. Kuo isn't the first to speak on the subject of a foldable iPad, but other predictions have it scheduled to arrive in 2025 or beyond.
(5/5)--- 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) January 30, 2023
My latest survey indicates that the foldable iPad will feature a carbon fiber kickstand. Carbon fiber material will make the kickstand lighter and more durable.
Kuo said he is positive about the foldable iPad landing in 2024, and has heard that it will feature a carbon fiber kickstand from Chinese manufacturer Anjie Technology. Carbon fiber is lightweight and durable although it is typically more expensive than plastic or metal. A company the size of Apple, however, could likely negotiate a favorable fee for the material.
The analyst said he expects a foldable iPad to boost shipments in the category and enhance Apple's product mix.
Unfortunately, Kuo didn't share details regarding Apple's planned implementation. Will Cupertino employ a flexible plastic membrane like we've seen in recent foldable smartphones or opt for a two-part design using traditional ridged displays like we saw with Microsoft's Surface Duo 2? The answer will most likely depend on the form factor.
A foldable iPad could take the shape of an oversized tablet when opened, but that seems a bit illogical and cumbersome. It's more likely that we'll see a foldable iPad with a focus on portability (it could fold down to half the size of a standard iPad) or a clamshell with a screen on top and a virtual keyboard on the bottom. Then again, the latter really isn't all that much different from a normal laptop which is already well established.
Image credit: Robert Nickson