updated 10:30 am EDT, Tue October 18, 2011
Rumor has small iPad screens testing for tiny iPad
A rumored small iPad might have manifested itself if a purported leak is accurate. Both AU Optronics and LG Display were said by Taiwan's Economic Daily News to be sending Apple samples of a 7.85-inch touchscreen with the same 1024x768 resolution as the current, 9.7-inch iPad. Broadcom would supply the touchscreen's controller chipset, while Kinsus would make the substrate.
Full-scale production and shipment would start in early 2012. Kinsus was already starting production since it needed as much as half a year's lead time to get started.
The design, the sources claim, would be to tackle low-end tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire as well as to drive sales in countries like China. While Apple isn't likely to reach the $199 price of a Kindle Fire, it may want a better price for the Chinese mainland, where even the $499 asking price for a base iPad is considered too high. Apple's revenue in Asia grew sixfold in the past year and is increasingly a key part of its business.
Some doubt exists surrounding the rumor, including based on Apple's own corporate philosophy. Exactly one year ago, the late Steve Jobs savaged seven-inch tablets. They required you shrink too much of the interface, he said at the time. Jobs considered the iPad's existing size the workable minimum.
The possibility nonetheless can't be ruled out, in part because of past strategy. Many have pointed to Jobs repeatedly feinting competitors, having talked down a technology or feature only to add it later once he was satisfied it could work. The video-capable iPod, iPhone, and the iPad's book component were all considered off-limits at one point. Apple would have both a slightly larger screen and a higher resolution that might offset some of its concerns.