“As soon as you have a stylus, you’re dead, “Steve Jobs once told his biographer Walter Isaacson. The Apple founder famously hated the touchscreen writing tools, totally eschewing them when he launched the iPad. But five years later, there are reliable rumours that Apple is poised to introduce its own stylus for the rumoured new “iPad Pro.”
Apple Insider has got their hands on a report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of CGI, who believes we can expect to see a stylus released as an optional add-on in the second quarter of 2015. With close links to Apple’s supply chain, Kuo has a very strong record of predictions about the Cupertino company (he’s previously been called “the most reliable Apple analyst in the world”).
“Given that it’s more precise than a person’s fingers, a stylus can be more convenient to use that the combination of keyboard and mouse in some cases,” Kuo says. “There, we believe Apple’s stylus will improve the user experience of 12.9-inch iPad.”
Rival hardware companies offer styluses with their touchscreen hardware — notably the Samsung Note 4 — but so far Apple has held out. Part of this may be that while a stylus is useful in certain contexts, they’re not that popular as a consumer tool. Most people just don’t need them.
As such, Kuo doesn’t expect it will be a massive seller, and says it will likely be a separate add-on rather than coming bundled with the iPad. He predicts shipments of between 2 and 2.5 million in 2015. “But we believe that the stylus could improve the experience of users… and will likely help Apple develop specific customer groups such as the corporate sector and educational institutions.”
Apple also has numerous stylus-related patents, the most recent application filed last December. While many of the company’s patents never make it into finished products, they add additional credibility to Kuo’s claims.
Apple has sold styluses before. But that was for the Apple Newton, a PDA device that was discontinued in 1998. WIRED described the device as a “prophetic failure,” but whether it was ahead of its time or not, it put Apple off styluses for more than a decade.
Here’s a video of Steve Jobs slamming styluses at MacWorld in 2007: