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Apple rumored to abandon iPad mini in 2015, move to 12-inch 'iPad Pro'

A dubious rumor out of East Asia on Monday claims Apple is looking to wind down iPad mini production in favor of a 12-inch tablet, a response to flagging sales and growing consumer interest in larger-screened devices.

Citing sources in Apple's supply chain, the Economic Daily News reports the company is looking to discontinue iPad mini sales when the tablet lineup is refreshed next year and will instead concentrate on production of a new 12-inch format being called "iPad Pro."

The shift in tablet strategy is said to be in reply to a shifting smartphone market, which has seen consumers gravitate toward devices with screens larger than 5 inches on the diagonal. Apple itself has seen unexpectedly high demand for the new 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, the company's first "phablet" handset.

Also cited as a catalyst for change is increasingly aggressive competition in the tablet sector, with competitors like Samsung slowly nibbling away at Apple's dominant marketshare. For the most recent fourth fiscal quarter of 2014, Apple moved 12.3 million iPads, down 17 percent from 14.1 million year-over-year.

When Apple released the latest flagship iPad Air 2 model in October, the iPad mini line was barely updated with Touch ID and new gold color option. Despite the relatively minor changes from last year's version, the iPad mini 3 commands the usual $399 price tag.

The report offered a few additional details on the iPad Pro, saying Foxconn will be responsible for building the large tablet, with internals and design both carried over from the iPad Air 2. Previous rumors have claimed the jumbo-size iPad will boast either a 12.9-inch or 12.2-inch display and feature two additional speakers located on the unit's top edge, likely for stereo sound when viewing videos in landscape mode.