All of the latest rumors surrounding Apple’s iPad suggest that the company is currently working on a secretive new version of the device that would come with a 7-inch screen. Apple is hoping to get the device onto store shelves by late summer or early fall, according to reports, and will focus the tablet directly at Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
Even the idea that Apple might be thinking about the Kindle Fire underscores the impact that device has made in the tablet space. When it came on the scene late last year with its $199 price tag and 7-inch display, many thought it was going to fall short in the shadow of Apple’s high-end iPad. But before long, the Kindle Fire saw sales soar during the 2011 holiday season and although sales slowed in the 2012 first quarter, it’s still one of the more popular iPad alternatives on the market.
Considering how important the tablet space is to Apple, however, one cannot expect the company to accept any substantial challenge from the Kindle Fire. Quite the contrary, there’s a good chance that Apple wants to take it down. And with a 7-inch iPad, there’s an even better chance that it’ll achieve that goal.
1. It’s Apple, isn’t it?
First things first: If it’s an Apple product, there’s a very good chance it’ll be successful. And if the device is successful, it’ll start cannibalizing sales of other devices, including the Kindle Fire. Unless Amazon can find a way to respond to the smaller iPad with something even better, Apple’s new slate will succeed simply because it comes from Apple.
2. Pricing matters
According to the latest reports, Apple will price its small iPad at a price that’s far closer to the $199 Amazon is selling its Kindle Fire for. The smaller iPad could come in at about $250 or $300, which, while more expensive than Amazon’s option, puts it close enough for most consumers to choose Apple’s slate rather than Amazon’s.
3. Most consumers want iOS
Unfortunately for Amazon, its tablet is running a heavily modified version of Android. And although Android is wildly popular in the smartphone market, in the tablet space, it has been largely an also ran. Apple’s new slate, meanwhile, will be running iOS, which has proved very effective on the iPad.
4. The Kindle Fire is about services
Amazon’s decision to launch the Kindle Fire last year seems to have had more to do with its own services than about beating Apple’s iPad. The device is built around the idea that users can access its Kindle marketplace, Amazon Cloud, Amazon Prime and countless other services. For Apple, however,it’s all about dominating hardware first. That different focus might hurt the Kindle Fire when it goes up against the smaller iPad.
Expect Extra Features, Retina Display
5. Apple will bundle extra features
The Kindle Fire is a relatively bare-bones device, featuring little storage (8GB), WiFi-only connectivity and no extra cameras to enhance its entertainment value. Apple, meanwhile, is expected to load several important features into its smaller iPad, including dual cameras, a better processor and maybe even 3G connectivity. All of that should amount to a far more appealing device.
6. A Retina Display shouldn’t be a problem
One of the nice things about Apple products is that they come with the high-quality Retina Displays. But since Apple will be selling the smaller iPad for a much cheaper price, some wonder if the tablet will boast the Retina Display. There’s no reason to suggest it won’t. After all, Apple has the smaller end of the market covered with the iPhone 4 and 4S, and now the new iPad has the Retina Display. It shouldn’t be too difficult to bring it to a device that has a screen size fitting in the middle of those two products.
7. Remember iCloud
It’s often overlooked, but Apple’s iCloud might just be one of the main reasons the company’s customers will stick with its products over the long haul. The data synchronizing service works across iOS, Mac and PCs, but won’t work on Android-based devices like the Kindle Fire. So, when customers who have iCloud running are outlooking for a small, lower cost tablet, which of the two slates do you think they’ll choose?
8. Remember iTunes, too
It’s also important to remember that iTunes has long been a huge selling point for today’s mobile customers. Folks who own iPads and have been buying iTunes songs for years don’t want to have to take their libraries to another platform and find a way to get songs to play on those devices. That’s a major issue for the Kindle Fire if and when the smaller iPad launches to take it on.
9. Current iPad owners will buy it
Although current iPad owners already have the big slate they need, there’s a very good chance many of them will flock to buy the new, smaller iPad. Unlike most other companies, Apple is able to get its current user base to buy its latest and greatest products even when customers don’t have a compelling need for them. This is just another one of those examples that will help Apple’s slate gain market shareand hurt the Kindle Fire.
10. The screen might be slightly larger
All of this talk of a 7-inch iPad forgets to mention that there’s a chancea good one, if some of the latest reports are to be believedthat the Apple slate will come with a 7.85-inch display. That might not seem like much, but assuming that’s the case, Apple will have another trump card to tell the world about. Apple is awfully smart, and there’s a good chance that the so-called “7-inch” screen the smaller iPad is coming with might actually be a 7.85-inch option.