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iPad mini rumors are here again

Now that we apparently know (nearly) everything about the iPad 3, the rumor mill needs something to focus on, right? The latest target of Apple murmurs is the fabled “smaller iPad.” We’ve been hearing about this (supposed) device on-and-off since well before the Kindle Fire was announced, and today is no different.

Analyst Ezra Gottheil of Technology Business Research says that he believes that a 7-inch iPad will be launching in the coming months, after the iPad 3 is released. He adds that he believes that a smaller iPad “has always been the plan.”

Gottheil goes on to say that the smaller form-factor is a great size for some users, and, though the tablet will fetch a premium compared to other 7-inch tablets (aka the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet), Apple wants to “protect that price point.”

Anything is possible, but we wouldn’t recommend that you put a lot of stock in this prediction. First, where is Gottheil’s soothsaying coming from? Though Apple leaks can and do happen, there is no indication that he is basing this on anything but pure speculation. You and I can pull speculation out of thin air just as well as he can, so take it as you will.

If Apple wants to “fend off” the Kindle Fire in the budget end of the tablet market, there is an easier way to do it. Many rumors also predicted a low-end iPhone in 2011 to fend off budget Android phones, but Apple instead offered the iPhone 4 for $100 and the iPhone 3GS for free. This year the company could potentially sell the iPad 2 for $350-400, even if its storage got dropped down to 8GB. Heck, maybe Apple would even bring the original iPad back from the dead, to do battle with the Fire in the $200-300 range (not likely, but no less so than the iPad mini).

Another strike against a miniature iPad is that Steve Jobs publicly talked trash about the 7-inch form factor. He stated that the smaller size compromised content, and didn’t lead to a great overall experience. Apple has done 180°s and released features that Jobs had previously criticized before, but this is still a damper on the 7-inch prediction (particularly the part that says “it’s been the plan all along”).

Perhaps the biggest reason to doubt this rumor, though, relates to Apple’s Q4 sales. It broke iPad sales records, despite the advent of the Kindle Fire. Apple isn’t necessarily losing sales to the Kindle Fire, we’re just seeing an expanded tablet market with different price tiers.


via geek.com


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