Apple Reportedly Prepping Crazy Cheap 9.7-inch iPad For 2018 Launch

If you thought that Apple's $329 9.7-inch iPad was cheap for a relatively large tablet, it could get a lot cheaper. A fresh report suggests that Apple is looking to dramatically reduce the price of the tablet for its next generation, which will likely debut during the first half of 2018.

According to a report out of Taiwan, the new 9.7-inch iPad will debut next year priced from $259. As smartphone displays have gotten larger and larger, sales have weakened for tablets across the board. Lowering the price of entry is just one way that Apple could help energize iPad sales.

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While the cheaper price point will no doubt be appreciated by everyday consumers, Apple is reportedly hoping to also spur adoption in industrial, service and education sectors. Apple's Macs and iPads were once a staple of schools across the country, but many budget-strapped districts have adopted cheaper alternatives like Google's Chromebooks to get better bang for their taxpayer-funded buck.

With the 9.7-inch iPad apparently moving even further down-market, it remains to be seen what this will mean for the 7.9-inch iPad Mini family. The iPad Mini 4 is currently only available in a 128GB capacity and starts at $399 for Wi-Fi, or $529 for Wi-Fi+LTE.

A separate report from the Nikkei Asian Review reveals that Apple may soon be cutting ties with Dialog Semiconductor, which currently produces power management chips for the iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch. Instead, the Cupertino-based technology giant is looking to design its own power management chips, as it continues its quest to bring more iPhone development in-house. Designing its own chips will allow Apple to have greater control of not only power consumption, but also overall performance.

It is reported that Dialog Semiconductor booked roughly 74 percent of its 2016 revenue from Apple, so any changes in that arrangement could be devastating for the company. As we've seen previously with companies like Imagination Technologies, sourcing the bulk of your revenue from just one company isn't likely to end well.