2012 iPad Roadmap: Don’t Expect a 7-Incher
With strong demand for the Kindle Fire and Nook driving demand for 7-inch displays above the 9.7-inch tablet display size popularized by the iPad, rumors are circulating once again that Apple may be planning a 7-inch tablet of its own. But there’s likely very little to the rumors, just as there was very little to their predecessors.
Though Apple has experimented with a 7-inch version of the iPad, developing it in concert with the larger 9.7-inch version it ultimately chose to launch, it’s probably not planning to bring it to market. Certainly not in 2012, anyway, says Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair.
“Don’t expect a 7-incher,” says Blair. “While we believe Apple has tested 7-inch screen prototypes for over a year, we don’t currently expect the company to release anything in the 7-inch size in 2012.”
As Blair notes, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a vocal critic of the 7-inch form factor, famously proclaiming in 2010 that the 7-inch tablets headed to market at the time were going to be “dead on arrival.” According to Jobs, the 9.7-inch display Apple chose for the iPad was “the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.”
“One naturally thinks that a 7-inch screen would offer 70 per cent of the benefits of a 10-inch screen,” Jobs said during a 2010 earnings call. “Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. … The reason we [won't] make a 7-inch tablet isn’t because we don’t want to hit [a lower] price point, it’s because we think the screen is too small to express the software. As a software driven company, we think about the software strategies first.”
That’s an emphatic denunciation, even for the famously acerbic Jobs. Hard to imagine Apple straying from it.
If the rationale for a 7-inch iPad is to address demand at the mid-tier, Apple might just as easily do that by discounting the iPad 2 after it debuts the iPad 3.
Says Blair, “We believe Apple is highly likely to keep the iPad 2 on the production line after the launch of iPad 3 and offer it at a lower price point in an effort to address demand at the mid-tier, what we view as the $249 to $499 range. We believe iPad 2′s price could drop to the $349 to $399 range with Apple offering a single 16GB model.”