iPad Mini Being Readied for Production: Report

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2012-07-05 Print this article Print

A smaller iPad "mini" has been rumored since the launch of the iPad 3. According to a new report, suppliers have been told to prep themselves for "mass production" of a 7-inch tablet, representing a change of heart for Apple.

Seemingly swayed by the success and appeal of Android smartphones, Apple is rumored to be planning an iPhone that features a larger display than its previous five models. Likewise, as Android supporters focus on the 7-inch tablet form factor, Apple is said to be planning a smaller version of its nearly 10-inch tablet, which has been called the iPad Mini.

In March, eWEEK cited an IHS iSuppli report that said a 7-inch version of the iPad was being planned for a release during the winter holiday shopping season. According to component suppliers, said the report, the new Apple tablet will feature a 7.85-inch XGA display.

On July 5, The Wall Street Journal reported that component suppliers, declining to be named, said that Apple has told them to prepare €œfor mass production of the smaller tablet.€

Sources told The Journal that Apple is working with screen makers including LG Display of South Korea and AU Optronics in Taiwan.

LG Display and Samsung€”Apple€™s business partner and legal adversary€”is said to be the supplier of the third-generation iPad€™s Retina display, according to Reuters. A bill of materials compiled by IHS has found the price of the iPad display to have risen considerably between iterations, from $57 on the iPad 2 to $87 on the iPad 3. 

While Google€™s Android already runs on a number of tablets, the search company introduced its own branded device (made by Asus) at its I/O developers€™ conference in San Francisco in late June. Called the Nexus 7, the device feature s a 7-inch display, which Google execs touted as particularly easy to hold and carry around.

Pricing for the Nexus 7 starts at $199, which puts the 7-inch Kindle Fire most obviously in its cross hairs, though the media-focused Nexus 7€”which Google says was designed for Google Play€”is likely to also affect sales of Barnes & Noble€™s 7-inch Nook and Samsung€™s Galaxy Tab 2 7.0.

That Apple should consider (or have planned) a 7-inch tablet is telling of how the market and consumer tastes have changed since the introduction of the original iPad in January 2010. Perhaps Apple, too, has changed. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who passed away in 2011, was adamant that a 7-inch form factor made for a lousy user experience.

€œThese 7-inch tablets are tweeners€”too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad,€ Jobs told media and analysts in October 2010, surprising them by joining an earnings call.

Jobs added, €œThese are among the reasons that the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA€”dead on arrival.€

That said, Jobs was also known for his ability to change his mind and feel passionately about something, despite having earlier backed the opposite position with equal fervor.

Ken Segall, a brilliant ad man who worked with Apple for more than a decade, in his book Insanely Simple tells the story of convincing Jobs that iMac was a better name for Apple€™s new computer than the name Jobs was favoring: MacMan.

€œHe had an opinion. A very strong opinion,€ wrote Segall. €œThe kind of opinion that might knock you over and kick you a few times. But that€™s not to say he wasn€™t reasonable or wouldn€™t ultimately change his mind if confronted with heartfelt opinions presented with passion.€

Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.

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