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!



Filed under Apple: The Company

14 responses to “Smaller iPad Coming. Duh.

  1. Aenean144

    The difficulty for Apple is that they likely think a 7″ device is a brand new device category. It’ll be half as large as a 9.7″ iPad and 4 times larger than a 3.5″ device. Apps designed for the 9.7″ iPad won’t work that well and smartphone apps blown up to 7″ aren’t that great.

    So a brand new UI (both OS and apps) will have to be designed for the 7″ size. Sounds like a bit too much. Currently, developers have to manage assets and designs for 2 iPhone screen resolutions and 2 iPad screen resolutions. The 7″ just adds another. Apple is famous for doing too little rather than too much, so I think 7″ will be on the back burner for at least another year.

    For math, a 7.85″ 1024×768 screen will have about the same DPI (163) as a 480×320 iPhone screen. Text won’t look that sharp if you recall what an iPhone 3GS screen looked like. If Apple wants to have this “Retina” display at 7″, they’ll have to use 1600×1200 to get it to suitable Retina display marketing DPI levels.

  2. Shock Me

    I think 1920×1280 would be cool at 7 inches (320 ppi). The same number of pixels as four retina iPhone displays tapped together.

  3. James

    Unless Apple wants to make a new screen resolution, they won’t do a smaller iPad. I’m not saying it is impossible but they just spent a boatload on the iPad retina display so they didn’t have to introduce a new screen resolution so I doubt they would fragment their development base for a cheaper, less profitable 7″ iPad.

    If they did a 1024×768 screen on a 7.8″ iPad, the UI targets would be a lot smaller than on a 9.7″ iPad 2.

    • mikecane

      >>>the UI targets would be a lot smaller than on a 9.7″ iPad 2.

      Yes, and your point is? Aren’t they also smaller on Android variable-sized tablets? And do people have problems?

  4. immovableobject

    Some highly vocal people also called for Apple to produce $500 netbook. Wishing won’t make it so. The UI ramifications of screen size ARE a big deal, but ignorant people just don’t get it.

    • mikecane

      Are you a dev? If not, then I wouldn’t comment.

      • immovableobject

        iOS, unlike OS X, was never designed to be usable on arbitrary sized monitors. I’m not saying that it is impossible for Apple to make a mid-sized tablet, only that doing so (properly) would require Apple to create APIs and UI guidelines specifically for that form factor, and that app developers would need to redesign their programs specifically for it.

        Already, there are two iOS form factors. Further fragmentation of the platform is not something to be taken lightly. Apple likes to keep the number of SKUs small. It allows them to be nimble. Trying to satisfy everyone is a losing game. History has shown that Apple has done well with its uncompromising strategy. I’d be surprised if Apple comes out with a 7″ tablet.

      • mikecane

        And my point is simply that it’s up to Apple to figure it out. Our handwringing about it is just a waste of energy. Did you see the post about how Apple’s website intends to deal with the new iPad Retina Display?

        No one wrung their hands over that because few people even thought about it. Yet Apple did.

      • Shock Me

        There are actually 3 iOS form factors at six resolutions:

        AppleTV 720p/1080p
        iPhone/iPod Touch Original/Retina
        iPad Original/Retina

      • mikecane

        And don’t each of those have different UIs too? TV, iP/T, iPad? Like I keep saying, Apple will work it all out. A debate about is a waste of time.

  5. jbelkin

    The only “smaller” ipad that exists is:

    A) a ruse project to snag leakers
    B) a ruse project to throw off all of apples competitors.
    C) a ruse to generate PR.

    in 5 years, when we get an ipad with a changeable screen size, then we will see a smaller than 10″ ipad … otherwise, enjoy the black ops portion of Apple.

  6. Lou

    Mike, I appreciate your enthusiasm, but you are not listening to these guys (who all, like me, are developers). You can’t just add arbitrary device sizes.

    That’s the whole problem with Android–too many device sizes.

    And if your phone is 4.5-5″ and you have a 10″ tablet, too, what the hell do you need with a 7″ tablet? It’s like buying a MacBook Pro 17″ and a 21″ iMac–they’re too close in size to be worthwhile as separate devices.

    Sure, Apple could create a great 7″ device UI–but, as these guys are saying, so would every developer. And we’re already busy with iPhones and iPads. Designing for an iOS device is like designing for print: everything is exact, pixel perfect. Designing for Android is like designing for the web–everything stretches depending on screen size, and positioning is approximate.

    So if Apple creates a 7″ iPad, that’s a 3rd UI that we have to design for. Ain’t gonna happen.

    The only thing I could see is that a 7″ device might run a web browser, iBooks, and video at full screen, and run iPhone apps in compatibility mode (much like the iPad does). Then developers would not have to create a 3rd app format, and you’d get the benefit of the larger screen for the web, books, and video.

    • mikecane

      >>>And if your phone is 4.5-5″ and you have a 10″ tablet, too, what the hell do you need with a 7″ tablet? It’s like buying a MacBook Pro 17″ and a 21″ iMac–they’re too close in size to be worthwhile as separate devices.

      There are people who indeed do that with their Macs. You can’t tote an iMac. And that’s the point of a 7.85″ iPad too — portability.

      You say it won’t happen. It might not. But where does your argument go if it *does* happen? Your argument goes down the drain and you will do whatever is necessary to adapt your app to that screen because you won’t pass up the possibility of more sales.

      Here is Gruber, FFS:

      >>>The iPad has changed my expectations regarding mobile computing. I use two Macs — one that remains at my office desk, and an 11-inch MacBook Air which I use anywhere and everywhere else. My flight to San Francisco prior to the iPad event lasted a little over 5.5 hours, and in-flight Wi-Fi was available. I started with my Air, which lasted about two hours, most of it spent browsing the web and posting to DF. Then I switched to the iPad, and spent the next 2.5 hours using it for the same tasks.

      Why carry a 9.7″ iPad when it’s so close in screen size to an 11″ MacBook Air?

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