Rumor Mill Ramps Up Production of Cheaper and Smaller iPads
The Apple rumor mill has kicked into overdrive in advance of next week’s iPad event, pushing out a pair of speculative reports this morning about what lies in the company’s product pipeline.
The most plausible: Taiwanese trade mag Digitimes’ claim that Apple plans to sell a cheaper, 8 gigabyte iPad 2 alongside the iPad 3 in a play for the lower end of the tablet market being staked out by Amazon’s Kindle Fire. I’ve heard nothing about such a plan, but it makes good sense. A new, low-capacity iPad 2 — priced at, say, $299 or even $349 — could wreak havoc on the low-end tablet market, clearing out a raft of struggling competitors and making the choice between Kindle Fire and iPad a much more difficult one for those consumers weighing the two.
The second report, also from Digitimes, is far less credible and resurfaces long-running rumors that Apple is gearing up to produce a “mini” iPad, a 7.85-inch device to compete with the Kindle Fire and Nook, which have created some demand for tablets with 7-inch displays. It’s widely known that Apple has experimented with an 8-inch iPad that would have a screen resolution similar to the iPad 2. But that doesn’t mean the company intends to ever bring the device to market.
As I’ve noted here before, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was a harsh critic of 7-inch tablets.
“One naturally thinks that a 7-inch screen would offer 70 percent 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.”