Apple Developing Smaller iPad: Report

Apple is developing an 8-inch iPad, according to The Wall Street Journal. If accurate, that runs contrary to Steve Jobs’ opinion on smaller tablets.

Apple is developing an 8-inch iPad, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.

The paper cited unnamed officials from Apple€™s suppliers for the information. €œThe Cupertino, Calif.-based company has shown them screen designs for a new device with a screen size of around 8 inches,€ read the Feb. 14 article, €œand said it is qualifying suppliers for it.€ Moreover, the tablet will apparently feature a similar resolution to the iPad 2.

If that information proves correct, and Apple wants a smaller tablet to accompany the 9.7-inch iPad, it would represent a major shift from the company€™s thinking under now-deceased CEO Steve Jobs.

In an October 2010 earnings call, Jobs denigrated smaller tablet screens as inferior. €œThe reason we don€™t make a 7-inch tablet isn€™t because we don€™t think we can hit the price point,€ he said. €œWe think it€™s too small.€

If that wasn€™t enough, he also knocked an ecosystem of different-sized tablets as detrimental to developers.

€œAs a software-driven company, we think about software strategies first, and we know that software developers aren€™t going to deal real well with all these different-sized products,€ he said. €œIt€™s not about cost; it€™s about the value of the product when you factor in the software.€

After Jobs died in October 2011, reports suggested that he and his team had plotted years€™ worth of product pipeline. Unless his previous statements were a spectacular case of showman€™s misdirection€”something not wholly outside the realm of possibility, granted€”then it seems unlikely that pipeline included a smaller tablet.

Is Apple experimenting with concepts beyond Jobs€™ vision? Is the 8-inch iPad glimpsed by the Journal€™s sources merely a prototype that will never see the cold, clean light of an Apple Store shelf? That remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Apple will unveil the iPad 3 at a high-profile March event in San Francisco, reported AllThingsD.

€œNo word yet on a street date for the iPad 3 (assuming that€™s what it€™s called),€ noted the Feb. 9 report, which relied on the ever-popular unnamed sources. Those sources apparently confirmed that the next-generation tablet will boast a similar look to the iPad 2, €œbut running a much faster chip, sporting an improved graphics processing unit, and featuring a 2048x1536 Retina Display€”or something close to it.€

Rumors of those features have circulated for some weeks. In a Feb. 1 posting, the Boy Genius Report also suggested the iPad 3 will feature an A6 processor. That information likewise came from an unnamed source, who provided the blog with screenshots of €œoutput from an iPad 3 using a development and debug tool called iBoot.€ Based on those screens, the iPad 3 will come in two versions: €œone with WiFi only and one with WiFi and embedded GSM/CDMA/LTE for all carriers.€

In the last quarter alone, Apple managed to sell some 15.43 million iPads. The company will expect any new tablet release to continue that blockbuster sales run. Moreover, that massive sales volume is apparently affecting other products in Apple€™s hardware ecosystem.

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