Though some reports say the rumored iPad Mini will look and feel like a large iPod Touch, others counter the claim.
The latest rumors concerning Apple's alleged iPad Mini tablet say the device will look very similar to the company's iPod Touch media player, only larger, according to a report on the Apple-centric blog 9to5Mac. Citing unnamed sources, the report also claimed the iPad Mini would have small bezels along the portrait sides of the device, as well as two volume buttons, instead of a tandem "rocker" design found on the iPad.
Speculation over the device, including a purported release window sometime in October, has accelerated in recent months as mock-ups of smaller cases have begun circulating as analyst predictions and unconfirmed reports pile up. A recent survey from Pricegrabber suggests that though Apple has shown no official interest in building a 7-inch iPad (Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was famously dismissive of the idea), consumers are quite interested in buying one. Slightly more than half the survey respondents said they would consider purchasing an iPad Mini for approximately $250 to $300.
The iPad is widely considered to have a 7.85-inch screen and be thinner and lighter than the full-size iPad. John Gruber of the blog Daring Fireball, which covers Apple (among other topics), posted an in-depth piece regarding the iPad Mini and countered the idea that the device would resemble the iPod Touch. "I expect the iPad Mini will bear more resemblance to a full-size iPad than it will to an iPhone or iPod Touch," he wrote. "For one thing, it's closer in size to the iPad-as-we-know it, and for another, all credible reports (along with several of my own little birdies) point to the smaller iPad keeping the 4:3 display aspect ratio."
Apple currently dominates the full-size tablet space with a global market share rising to nearly 70 percent in the second quarter of 2012, according to recent figures from IT research firm IHS. During the second quarter, Apple shipped 17 million iPad 2 and new iPad tablets, up 44.1 percent from 11.8 million the first quarter, marking a five-quarter high for the company's tablet market share. Apple last accounted for such a large portion of the market in the first quarter of 2011, when it had a 70 percent share.
Competitors, most notably companies selling tablets based on Google's Android operating system, have responded by offering tablets and lower price points on various sizes, most notably Amazon with its Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7 tablet. In the 7-inch tablet market, a sub-$200 price is seen as a key point of entry to success. Pricing for the Nexus 7 starts at $199, which puts the 7-inch Kindle Fire, which also retails for $199, squarely in its cross hairs. The media-focused Nexus 7-which Google says was designed for Google Play, the company's online content portal-is likely to also affect sales of Barnes & Noble's 7-inch Nook and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2 7.0.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.