Apple Readies iPad Mini?
Reports claim Apple is preparing to release a new smaller iPad, dubbed the iPad Mini, before year-end.
While Apple holds the lion's share of the tablet market, it is believed that a smaller iPad may be needed to maintain the company's dominance.
Both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal cite sources “with knowledge of the plans” as saying Apple is developing a tablet with a seven- to eight-inch screen which will be priced to compete with the less expensive tablets in the market.
Late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was famously adamant that any screen smaller than that of the iPad's 9.7 inches would not be capable of delivering the full tablet experience. Speaking during an earnings report in 2010, Jobs said seven inches was not sufficient to create great tablet apps.
"Apple's done extensive user testing on touch interfaces over many years, and we really understand this stuff. There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touch-screen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps," said Jobs.
Jobs' strong views on the matter, coupled with the current lack of concrete evidence of a smaller iPad, have meant that many tech experts remain sceptical as to whether the rumours of the iPad Mini are to be believed.
Other analysts have, however, noted that a smaller tablet may be necessary to defend Apple's dominance in the market in the face of new competition from Google's Nexus 7, Amazon's Kindle Fire and Microsoft's Surface tablet.
The Nexus 7 has been hailed as the best Android tablet to date, and given its $199 price point, it could see significant traction in the market. The new Google device also runs the new Android 4.1 Jelly Bean OS.
According to the anonymous sources cited in the latest reports, the iPad Mini will not have the Retina display of the new iPad, Instead, the smaller tablet is rumoured to feature an IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) display which is said to allow for the body of the device to be thinner while still offering a resolution of 330ppi. The device is expected to be priced between $200 and $300 to remain competitive.
Last week, Pacific Crest analyst Andy Hargreaves said in a research note that based on supply checks, the research firm expects Apple to launch a 7.85-inch iPad in October.
“We anticipate an entry-level 7.85-inch iPad, with 8GB of NAND capacity, to price at $299 with an initial gross margin of 31%. We estimate Apple will sell 10 million 7.85-inch iPads in FQ1 (Dec) and 35.2 million in all of F2013.
“Based on estimated component order volume, we believe our iPad mini unit estimates are well within Apple's production capacity. We anticipate 25% cannibalisation of the larger 9.7-inch iPad (for every four 7.85-inch iPads added, we reduced our 9.7-inch iPad estimate by one), so our total F2013 iPad estimate increases to 91.6 million, from 65.2 million.”
Hargreaves says: “Apple is approaching a tremendous period of product cycle strength, with anticipated launches of a new iPhone, a 7.85-inch iPad and a refreshed 9.7-inch iPad that are likely to drive strong profit growth and corresponding stock appreciation.”