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The rumours have been swirling for several months that Apple was planning a smaller, cheaper version of the iPad, presumely to take on the likes of the Google Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire HD, Samsung GALAXY Tab series and other Android tablets.
The date is strategic for two reasons. Firstly, it is three days from Microsoft‘s global launch of its latest Microsoft Windows 8 operating system. The software giant is expected to officially reveal the Microsoft Surface tablet amongst other things.
Secondly, a Q4 release date is just in time for the holiday season, and will most definitely spur sales as people scramble to buy gifts, and ultimately grow Apple’s bottom line for the year. Supplier evidence also point to a Q4 release.
It is understood that Apple order 10 million units of iPad mini with component suppliers in Asia for Q4 2012. That’s double the order of what was placed for Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets in the same quarter.
The 7.85-inch display used by the iPad mini is made by AU Optronics Corp and LG Display Co. It is widely believe to have a 16:9 ratio, but some analysts also predict it to be the same resolution of 1,024 x 768 pixels (4:3 ratio) as the previous iPad and iPad 2. So NO Retina Display. This would mean developers would not need to tweak their apps in any way for the iPad mini.
The late Steve Jobs believed that 10-inches was the minimum size for a tablet and once ranted about tablets that are under 10-inches:
Here’s the excerpt of Mr. Jobs’ speech from October 2010.
[quote]I’d like to comment on the avalanche of tablets poised to enter the market in the coming months.
First, it appears to be just a handful of credible entries. Not exactly an avalanche. Second, almost all of them use seven-inch screens, as compared to the iPad’s near 10-inch screen.
Let’s start there. One naturally thinks that a seven-inch screen would offer 70% of the benefits of a 10-inch screen. Unfortunately this is far from the truth. Screen measurements are diagonal. So that a seven-inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad’s 10-inch screen. You heard me right: Just 45% as large.
If you take an iPad and hold it up in portrait view, and draw a horizontal line halfway down the screen, the screens on seven-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the iPad display. This size isn’t efficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion.
While one could increase the resolution to make up some of the difference, it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one-quarter of their present size. Apple has done expensive user testing on touch interfaces over many years, and we really understand this stuff.[/quote]
Apple executives, though, believe there is a market for a 7-inch iPad. A 7-inch iPad would appeal to the lower spectrum of the market.
The iPad continues to dominate the tablet market with a 60% marketshare despite all Android has thrown at it and is unlikely to change drastically any time soon.
Analysts believe the iPad mini will sell for around $250-$300 putting it slightly above the price points of the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD.
What do you think of the iPad mini? Would you buy a 7-inch iPad?