‘iPad mini' reportedly slated for launch later this year

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, back eighteen months (almost to the day) to 18 October 2010.

Steve Jobs was delivering news of more sensational quarterly results for Apple in an earnings call, when he turned his attention to what he called “the avalanche of tablets poised to enter the market”. Stating his belief that “almost all of them use seven-inch screens”, he claimed that a display as small as seven inches diagonally “isn’t efficient to create great tablet apps”. But he didn’t stop there.

“While one could increase the resolution to make up some of the difference,” Jobs explained, “it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one-quarter of their present size. Apple has done extensive user testing on touch interfaces over many years, and we really understand this stuff.” So, according to Apple research, even a Retina Display wouldn't make much difference - it's the physical size of the screen, not the display resolution, that's the limiting factor in sub-10" tablets.

In case there was any lingering doubt that Jobs – and more importantly, Apple as a company – had no intention at all of succumbing to the trend of tablet downsizing, he added this: “There are clear limits of how close you can place physical elements on a touchscreen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.”

Fast forward to the present day, and the persistent rumour of a downsized ‘iPad mini’ has once again resurfaced. The report comes via Kotaku from China’s NetEase portal, and is the latest in a long line of claims that Apple is gearing up to launch a tablet that will sit below its current 9.7” model.

According to NetEase, the device will be released to counter – and potentially pre-empt – the impact of Windows 8 tablets on iPad sales, with a launch slated for the third quarter of this year, which could see it beat the first wave of Windows 8 tablets to market.

The smaller iPad will apparently be priced as low as $249, which would make it a very competitive offering against both Windows 8 devices, and against other rivals such as Amazon’s 7” Kindle Fire, and the widely expected Android ‘Nexus tablet’.

But the question now – just as every time this rumour arises – is that of how Apple could conceivably build a smaller iPad without being forced to eat the words of its former leader. Of course, one can sensibly argue that Tim Cook is now in charge of the company and it is he who makes the decisions, but while Steve Jobs is gone, he is far from forgotten. Jobs’ words in 2010 were unequivocal in stating the unsuitability of a sub-10” tablet as not merely his personal opinion, but the factual findings of Apple’s – the company’s – expert scientific research.

It’s hard to see how the company could conceivably talk its way out of that corner. Perhaps a few carefully chosen buzzwords – ‘revolutionary’, ‘magical’ etc – will soon consign that little problem to the history books.


Image via Ciccarese Design

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43 Comments

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I wonder if we'll ever see an iPhone Mini - something like an iPod Nano 5G with a taller display, but without the clickwheel?
Currently the Xperia Ray is the only 'compact' smartphone available...

Isn't an iPad mini essentially an iPod Touch? I don't really understand why they would need both, or this and an iPhone...

This article really doesn't make any sense. Why would Apple make a cheap "mini" tablet to compete with Windows 8 tablets? I thought it was becoming pretty clear that Win 8 tablets are going to be upwards of the $1000+ range.

If anything, Apple should make a hybrid of an iPad and Macbook Air to compete with Win 8 tablets and the Transformer Prime.

I think Steve was right...but that's just me. I don't have any Apple products, but am looking to get an Ipad or $250ish 10" android if they ever appear.

Keep in mind, Steve is gone, people always try to make their own mark when trying to fill big shoes, which hasn't been good for Apple in the past...maybe this will work simply because it's a new Apple anything.

G-D, so many people getting butthurt over something that probably won't happen...

& BTW, it looks to me like Steve was talking about <10" tablets, not <7" tablets...

It's funny how a little marketing straight from Steve's mouth can make people doubt that Apple will ever release anything smaller than the iPad when they already have...

iPad Mini =/= iPod Touch?

I'm confused. It's the same thing really. The iPad Mini may be a little bigger thats all

At the business standpoint, flooding the market with a cheaper device combined to the Apple well established marketplace is a wonderful weapon against Windows 8.

There is no doubt not a single upcoming Windows 8 tablet will be able to compete with this price point. Clever strategy if true.

The ipad, just a bigger itouch and now we are making another itouch but not as big as the ipad. We will call it the iPad mini to make you think your getting more ipad than iTouch.

I honestly don't mind the ~10" screen size of my iPad (its really the best size for magazine content IMHO). Its the weight more than anything (as well as the sharp edges). Maybe I'm just a wuss. I might consider getting a ~7" tablet/iPad just because it would be so much lighter, and not because I like the screen size so much.

Let's take a trip down memory lane, back eighteen months (almost to the day) to 18 October 2010.

Steve Jobs was delivering news of more sensational quarterly results for Apple in an earnings call, when he turned his attention to what he called “the avalanche of tablets poised to enter the market”. Stating his belief that “almost all of them use seven-inch screens”, he claimed that a display as small as seven inches diagonally “isn't efficient to create great tablet apps”. But he didn't stop there.

-------

helps that he's dead doesn't it? apple doing something he said he would never do... like make deals with android devs and now come out with a smaller ipad.

rajputwarrior said,
like make deals with android devs and now come out with a smaller ipad.
sad thing about making it a droid is then you would have to use a droid... ewww.

It has a bigger screen. Some people (like me) don't have 500 dollars to flip out for an ipad. I know I will buy one and I have an iPhone! I'd be perfect size for my 5 year old nephew to play Angry Birds/Cut the Rope. Maybe I can finally use my iPhone when I go over to their house! LOL!

if this does come out the same people who are saying it wont happen would be saying its the best thing since sliced bread

iPad mini? I'm sorry, but in the last universe I was in this was called the iPod. What a racket Apple's got going boy. And watch, just to be funny they'll make it the same size as the iPod Touch. Then, about a year from now, they'll come out with another revolutionary device: The iPod Maxi!

Stetson said,
Wow, you must have seen some pretty big iPod touches to confuse them with a 7-8" iPad.

Wow, you must have a very serious life to not get when someone is joking. I'm trying to come up with bits!

you may have seen some china knock offs then

devHead said,
iPad mini? I'm sorry, but in the last universe I was in this was called the iPod. What a racket Apple's got going boy. And watch, just to be funny they'll make it the same size as the iPod Touch. Then, about a year from now, they'll come out with another revolutionary device: The iPod Maxi!

seebaran said,
So why not do an 8 inch tablet then, if 7 is too small?

It basically is. 7.85" is the rumored screen size, which is large enough to allow the use of existing 1024x768 formatted iPad apps. This would also make the DPI the same as the pre-retina iPhone.

Jose_49 said,
Oh, BTW I thought that iPad mini was labeled iPod Touch....

iPod touch, iPhone, iPad Mini... all the same. Just don't be the sucker that buys all three.

techbeck said,
If true, think it would do well. Steve Jobs did what he did, but he wasnt always right.

NO, He was always right since he came back to Apple 2nd time..

Pow said,
Would this mean a whole new set of apps having to be made?

Not really. The resolution would be the old iPads 1024/768.

Pow said,
Would this mean a whole new set of apps having to be made?

New apps layouts might need to be created and considered. They could go with a resolution of 1024 x 768, but the difference in physical dimensions would mean that the buttons/controls would be physically smaller and at least according to Mr. Jobs, more difficult to touch and interact with.

CMG_90 said,

Not really. The resolution would be the old iPads 1024/768.

Then it will sucks. 4.7 inch Nexus has 720p display. 1024X768 is very outdated.

tuneslover said,

Then it will sucks. 4.7 inch Nexus has 720p display. 1024X768 is very outdated.

Yeah, sure, outdated when you look at the upper-crust of tablets and smartphones. But I don't think it is at all outdated when you consider low-end low-budget devices.

Please, I can't believe that this is going to be the so "revolutionary device" which will be coming in October, as rumors say

Jose_49 said,
Please, I can't believe that this is going to be the so "revolutionary device" which will be coming in October, as rumors say

There isn't gonna be a "revolutionary device" Both Apple nd the designer have now confirmed that to be false..

Jose_49 said,
Please, I can't believe that this is going to be the so "revolutionary device" which will be coming in October, as rumors say
it maybe revolutionary to you but not to anyone else