The Unlikely Smaller iPad Moves Into Sight
We know for sure that whenever it arrives it will be accompanied by some sandpaper. That is if Steve Jobs’ quote from October 2010 is anything to go by when he stated that Apple had done extensive testing on the screen sizes of tablets and concluded that 10-inches is the minimum size for a tablet “unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of the present size.”
However one could assume that whatever Steve Jobs says isn’t going to happen usually does, at least that applies to Apple’s entrance into the mobile phone market and how video became available on the iPod shortly after Jobs described that as somewhere Apple wouldn’t venture.
This week has seen rumours of a 7-inch iPad reach fever pitch but it’s not the first we’ve heard of this device. Some could speculate that Apple has been spurred on by the entrance of Google and Microsoft into the tablet scene, particularly the former with its 7-inch offering. Historically though Apple is not reactionary to changes in the market and simply releases products when it feels they are ready.
Wall Street Journal wrote in February that Apple was “working with Asian component suppliers to test a new tablet computer with a smaller screen”. It was noted that the device had a screen size around 8-inches but similar resolution to the iPad 2 (1024 x 768). Then in April John Gruber weighed in saying “I do know is that they have one in the lab, a 7.85″ iPad that runs at 1024 x 768. And it’s just like the 9.7-inch iPad shrunk down a little bit.” Although just five days ago Gruber tweeted a revised size of 7.7-inches.
iMore kicked things off firmly with a report in May stating that Apple was tracking for an October release of a 7-inch iPad priced in the $200-$250 range. The move is said to be reminiscent of what happened with the iPod in the mid-2000s when Apple began targeting cheaper markets to compete with growing competition. With both Google and Amazon now in the 7-inch tablet space, this could well be the case.
This week Bloomberg weighed in citing “two people familiar with the plans,” who stated that Apple intends to release this smaller iPad before the years end—possibly in the October timeframe. Bloomberg agrees on the details too, saying that it will “have the same number of pixels as those in the iPad before it was upgraded to the so-called Retina Display earlier this year”.
The Wall Street Journal has today thrown its weight behind these rumours again although this time stirring my own pessimistic mind. Agreeing once again on the details the WSJ pinpoints a device with a display slightly smaller than 8-inches. However the WSJ adds that “component suppliers” are preparing for mass production in September, for a release later this year.
MG Siegler has commented on the idea of an October launch, which would coincide with the release of the iPhone. MG believes, as do I, that such a timeframe would not be particularly Apple like. Apple is a company that enjoys delivering a very clearly focused message at events, launching both a new iPhone and whole new iPad either at the same event or within close proximity to each other seems highly unlikely.
Matthew Panzarino’s tweet earlier today (who incidentally has a good analysis from May on the potential 7-inch iPad scene) spurred me on to suspect that whilst the iPad mini is definitely on the cards it won’t see the light of day in October.
Take for example the next iPhone, we can’t be sure that they are genuine parts but we’ve seen a steady stream of parts leak from the supply chain over the last few months. It’s clear that manufacturing has begun of the next iPhone and it will be released in October. Where are the parts belonging to the 7-inch iPad? If the WSJ believes in its statement of manufacturing beginning in volume in September then this iPad won’t see the light of day until November or even early next year.