Smaller iPad Coming. Duh.

Samsung may have let slip Apple’s iPad Mini plans

Samsung may have accidentally spilled the beans on Apple’s plans to sell a smaller iPad.

By the end of the year, Apple will release an iPad with a 7.85-inch screen, according to a report from the Korea Times, which cited an unnamed Samsung official.

That’s CNet this afternoon. This morning, another CNet column had a different outlook.

Rumor: 7-inch iPad to feature slim bezel display

I cannot stress enough how much I disagree that Apple would release an iPad with these specs. While a 7-inch iPad may very likely be in the mix down the road, there is no way Apple would release an inferior product simply to compete for market share in the low end of the tablet market. As it stands, Apple is mopping up in profit share at the high end, a much more valuable metric to consider.

If you are waiting for a smaller, cheaper iPad, your wait will likely be a long one.

Cue the cackling. OK, but what he was correct about was this bit:

First of all, let’s clear the air about Apple’s iPad and the Kindle Fire. Apple couldn’t care less about the Kindle Fire. There is not a single device in the tablet market that requires Apple to create a “competitor” product.

In fact, one could argue that there is not a single device in the smartphone market that Apple is worried about either. The new iPad has reportedly sold out of preorder units, and the iPhone 4S drove Apple to its biggest quarter (and one of the best by any company) ever.

So, to suggest that the Kindle Fire is a catalyst for Apple to develop a new product is a little insulting to Apple.

That’s true. Apple would not be impelled by the appearance of any other devices to create a smaller iPad.

Apple would do it because customers have wanted it.

No, don’t go bringing up the damn Henry Ford “faster horse” quote. This is not the same thing. The iPad has already been established. We’re not talking about Apple creating something brand new. We’re talking about a smaller form factor.

And I suspect it will be in this size range:

7.5”x 5.5? x 0.3? – 10 oz.

Everyone knows I’m thoroughly incompetent in math (there are many blogs posts as proof of that), so I won’t even hazard a guess as to what the PPI of a 1024 x 768 screen will be at a 7.85? size.  All I know is that it will look sharper than the iPad 2?s screen. And that will be enough for most people who have been accustomed in the intervening months to the Retina Display of the “new iPad” (aka iPad 3).

If you want some sort of idea what that screen will be like, go hunt down the new Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 at a Verizon store. And, yes, I think Apple will be able to make that ten ounces weight. Which makes things very interesting.

Because the original Nook from Barnes & Noble weighed a whopping 12.1 ounces, but that didn’t seem to dissuade people. And the first generation and second generation Kindle weighed 10.3 and 10.2 ounces, respectively. And the new Galaxy Tab 7.7 is 11.9 ounces.

This would put the smaller iPad into eBook reader weight territory.

And let’s not forget that most of those eInk devices were usually also placed in covers, adding to their weight. This rumored “confirmation” of a smaller iPad should give many people second thoughts about buying a different, smaller tablet.

Why go invest in hardware that will be obsolete by year’s end? Why pay for apps that you know you won’t use by year’s end? A smaller iPad will also be used to unfairly castigate upcoming Windows 8 tablets. How large, bulky, and heavy will they seem in comparison?

I also wonder now what the prospects for Barnes & Noble spinning off its Nook are after this news? And does anyone now care if there will be a Kindle Fire 2 or a larger Kindle Fire (Kindle Inferno?)?

I have just two words for Apple: Bring it!

16 Comments on Smaller iPad Coming. Duh.

  1. I’m expecting Apple to come out with a longer and narrower iPad Mini, not one with 4:3 screen dimensions like that found on the current iPad. This is the device that will go ofter the ereader market in earnest, so a more book like shape would be a good idea.

    Note that the iPod Touch has 3:2 screen geometry. There aare times where narrower is better.

  2. ‘Kindle Inferno’… What a nice name for a device Mike…

  3. Isn’t iPod the smaller iPad? Or do they mean they’re going to produce medium iPad? I wonder how they’re going name it… I suggest iPed… What do you think Nate?

  4. Nah, I won’t care much when the new Kindle comes out, since I prefer other brands — but precisely the same applies to the latest iWhatever.

  5. If Apple can actually get to 10 ounces (and 10 hour battery life) they would have an attractive package indeed. But I doubt they would mess with the aspect ratio because the entire iPad app library is geared for 4×3. (Which is why the New iPad runs at QXGA resolution, to make for a smooth, easy up-convert from XGA.)
    So a 7.x in XGA screen would offer resolution equivalent to the 6in readers, but in color; a book-like aspect ratio; and a size and weight comparable to a small hardcover to make it a marketable premium option for ebook reading. They can probably go cheap on RAM (512Mb), Flash (8GB), and CPU (single core, dual GPU) and easily get to $299 WiFi only and full Apple profit margins.
    Main virtue is it would foreclose the market for cheap 1oin Android webpads.
    (As in 10in generic Android vs slightly smaller, much lighter Apple “coolness”.)
    Sounds like there’s a business there.

    • >>>They can probably go cheap on RAM (512Mb), Flash (8GB), and CPU (single core, dual GPU) and easily get to $299 WiFi only and full Apple profit margins.

      Ouch, that would hurt, but probably a route they’d consider, seeing how the iPod Touch is nowhere near as good as the iPhone — with a Retina Display that is really in name only, with crap viewing angles compared to the one on the iPhone.

      • Why would it hurt?
        Those are essentially iPad1 specs, no?
        And comparable to most budget tablets.
        Most importantly, it’ll run 99% of iPad apps just fine.

        • >>.Why would it hurt?

          It’d hurt me personally. I like horsepower! But I’d live with it.

          Hmph, I also wonder if they’d put in cameras? If they do, they can’t be crapcams like the iPod Touch.

          • Horsepower for specmanship?
            The reason Apple used their New iPad CPU/GPU budget to go with 4GPU cores and 2CPU cores is that their OS and software rarely uses even 2 cores: the OS doesn’t really multitask and few if any Apps are multi-threaded.
            Until the OS improves and the apps grow up, extra CPU cores are disposable.
            Ditto for RAM; if they stick with XGA graphics, existing apps will run fine in 512MB.
            One added advantage of going with a single core CPU is they can run the clock up so instead of 1GHz, they could crank it up to 1.2 or higher and end up with comparable performance as the New iPad.
            Doesn’t mean they’ll do anything like this, but there it would make good engineering sense of they did.

          • Yep. There’s a reason that the best budget CPU at the moment is a single core 1.2GHz (from Boxchip). What makes it hot is the 400MHz graphics chip built it.

  6. I really want a smaller iPad, and I don’t care about price. Ideally it would have the same or similar specs, but with a footprint close to 8.5″ x 5.5″. It would just fit better in my briefcase- this is a pretty common size. While I’m not hugely concerned about screen size, if they shrink the edge border Apple could still install an 8″+ screen. In theory, a smaller screen would also improve battery life. Win-win.

  7. Hi guys people are coming up with pretty funny cool names for the iPad mini think the options could be :
    iTablet
    iTab
    iPad 4 ( probably least likely )
    iPad mini

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