There’s a constantly spinning mill of rumors about Apple products, most of which turn out to be untrue. What’s unusual this week is that talk has revived of a smaller iPad model, an idea company founder Steve Jobs derided publicly a year before he died.
Apple and its suppliers aren’t commenting. Rumors of a smaller iPad, or “iPad mini” have percolated ever since the first iPad was launched two years ago. This time around, they’re fed by media reports from South Korea, China and Taiwan, saying Apple has ordered Samsung screens that are 7.86 inches measured on the diagonal. That would make the screen about two-thirds the size of the current iPad, which has a diagonal measurement of 9.7 inches.
WHY IT’S A GOOD IDEA:
A smaller tablet would help Apple further its lead in the tablet market.
“From a competitive standpoint, we believe an iPad mini with a lower price point would be the competition’s worst nightmare, says Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee. “Most (competitors) already have a tough enough time competing against the iPad 2, as well as the new iPad.”
Apple has successfully fended off competitors who have tried to sell tablets in iPad’s size range. But last year, Amazon.com Inc. figured out how to crack Apple’s stranglehold on tablets by making a half-size, no-frills tablet. The result was the Kindle Fire, which sells for $199 –basically, the cost of production. Amazon has sold millions of them.
Apple sells the iPod Touch for $199, but its screen is about a quarter of the size of the Kindle Fire — a big disadvantage for people who want to enjoy books, movies and games. It also sells the older iPad model for $399. It has nothing in between.
Price isn’t the only reason customers might prefer a smaller tablet. A 7-inch model would fit in many handbags, unlike the current iPad.