Monthly Archives: February 2012
- 2009 – iPad Mini Rumors Begin
Rumors of Apple coming out with an iPad Mini began even before the iPad 1 was released in 2010. Tech blogs back in 2009 were speculating that a major shortage in 7” touchscreen components could be due to Apple buying them up for its first iPad launch. They weren’t. The following year, Apple launched the iPad with a 9.7-inch display.
- 2010 – Steve Job’s Bluff
Apple CEO Steve Jobs famously stated that he did not like the 7-inch tablet form, saying, among other things, that the screen was ”too small to express the software.” Jobs’ comments were made during Apple’s Q4 2010 Conference Call and were primarily directed towards RIM, who was scheduled to launch its highly anticipated 7-inch Blackberry Playbook four months later.
- 2011- iPad Mini Rumors Again
Amazon successfully busts through Apple’s “anti-7-inch tablet distortion field,” selling 4 million Kindle Fire Tablets in Q4 2011. Price, especially, but also mobility prove key consumer drivers. Numerous other tablet-makers start getting in on the action and the tablet population in 2011 starts multiplying like Tribbles. In December, Digitimes reports Apple is looking into developing a Smaller iPad. This report was largely dismissed.
- 2012 – Time for Smaller iPad
A Feb.15 item published in the Wall Street Journal appears to reinforce portions of Digitimes’ Dec. post regarding Apple looking seriously into developing an iPad Mini. Due to increasing competitiveness – and potential blockbuster profit opportunities – in the smaller form market, it now seems likely Apple will be coming out with a 7.85-inch iPad Mini just before the holidays this year.
The IPad Mini.
When it finally came time for the diminutive tablet assault, Apple may have simply let Amazon kick in the door and report back.
Apple will be coming out with an iPad Mini before Christmas. There’s been no word from Apple regarding this, release dates and specs have yet to be announced. But the company has to do it. At this point, there’s just too much money to be made with the smaller form for Apple not to come out with a Smaller iPad.
Most voiced skepticism in December when Digitimes reported that there were indications pointing towards Apple launching a 7.85-inch iPad Mini in 2012. We were skeptical. Digitimes’ story, while widely reported, was largely dismissed. The site’s record of confirmed rumors regarding Tablet News has been sketchy over the years, and it had already cried wolf back in April 2010, when it indicated that Apple appeared to be planning a Small iPad (a 5- to 7-inch version) for launch “as soon as Q1 2011.”
Even as early as 2009, before the iPad 1 launch, other sites were speculating that a major shortage of 7-inch touchscreen components was due to Apple snatching them all up for its New Tablets. It didn’t happen (MacRumors, which always seems to have a pretty good head, or nose, for these things, didn’t think it would).
So, it was relatively easy to dismiss the December rumor. Steve Jobs had passed away just two months earlier, which was also on people’s minds, and we were all reminded that Jobs had deemed the 7-inch tablet form just too small to be usable.
Just how would Steve Jobs tell it to us this fall, if he were the one on stage introducing us to Apple’s new 7.85-inch iPad?
“Guys, I said the 7-inch form was no good, but this thing’s nearly 8 inches!”
Maybe he’d say something like that, and maybe he would talk about resolving the software issues brought about by the smaller screen size, etc., since he made those 2010 remarks in response to RIM’s then pending Blackberry Playbook release. Regardless, the reason Apple is coming out with a smaller iPad this fall is not too difficult to figure out at this point.
It seems rather obvious now.
But why did it not seem so obvious, at least to many of us, back when the rumor surfaced at the end of last year?
For one thing, we heard it the second time from a far more reliable source. The Wall Street Journal reported Feb 15th that officials at some Apple suppliers said the company was circulating specifications for a smaller iPad of “around 8 inches.” And, to give Digitimes some credit, the WSJ piece appeared to reinforce portions of the December report. Plus, as of now, it has been 68 days and probably several million 7-inch Amazon Kindle Fire tablet sales since Digitimes’ story came out. A multitude of new 7-inch tablets running Android were introduced at CES in Las Vegas early last month. This included Samsung and Verizon Wireless introducing the Galaxy Tab 7.7 with LTE for Verizon’s LTE network; Toshiba introducing its Thrive AT150 7-Inch Tablet; and Acer announcing it was coming out with its ZTE T98 quad-core 7-inch tablet. Also, Google stated last year it was coming out with its own smaller form Android tablet in 2012.
And let’s not forget Microsoft will officially introduce Windows 8 beta next week. The company claims Win8 will be the complete mobile solution for tablets, smartphones, desktops, and laptops. Is there any reason not to think small-sized Win 8 tabs aren’t “factored” into plans by HP, Dell and others? HP planned to release a 7-inch tablet running WebOS, but nixed it last August. The company must now be chomping at the bit to get back in the tablet game and clear the lingering detritus brought about by “The TouchPad Effect.”
A V8 Moment
The high likelihood of Apple coming out with a jr iPad in 2012 seems as if it had been right in front of us all along, but we were simply too distracted to see it. Apple would have been just plain stupid not to had been moving steadily towards releasing a Smaller iPad, planning for it probably long before Amazon dreamed up its successful 7-inch “loss leader” tablet strategy. If the Blackberry Playbook had somehow, miraculously, become a raging success, don’t you (now) think Apple would have already come out with a smaller iPad?
Although Apple has not yet acknowledged there will ever be one, the upcoming release of the jr iPad is simply shrewd market timing. And, Apple certainly won’t say anything about it until the (gold) dust settles following the release of iPad 3 (or will it be 2S?), reportedly taking place next month. Job’s earlier dissing of the smaller form appeared quite prescient when coupled with the inadequacies of the original Playbook. RIM’s misstep, coupled with Job’s highly public disparagement of the 7-inch form, likely helped Apple buy valuable time that contributed to it establishing iPad’s current dominant position in the tablet market. The company just figured it would be far wiser (i.e., more profitable) not to be first one out with a smaller tablet.
So, Where’s The Line?
A future market that includes an almost seamless array of sizes could prove highly lucrative for Apple and other mobile device makers in coming years. For those who feel that the line between iPhone/iPodTouch/iPad already could not get any blurrier, think ahead. Eventually there might not be a line.
Joe Hopkins is editor & publisher of NewTabletsNews