updated 11:50 pm EST, Thu December 15, 2011
Apple may ship tiny iPad in Q2 for Q3 sale
Apple's rumored 7.85-inch iPad was claimed late Thursday to be going into production in late spring. Part suppliers talking to Digitimes believed Apple was staggering the introduction of a second model, launching the iPad 3 towards March but shipping its miniature counterpart before the fall, leaving the summer as the likely target. Previously alluded production plans would see both AU Optronics and LG Display making the new screens.
Although possibly just speculation, the tipsters thought that Apple was having to breach the late Steve Jobs' well-known criticism of seven-inch tablets for the sake of cornering the market. Tablet readers like the Kindle Fire, as well as very large smartphones like the Galaxy Nexus, risked leaving a major gap in Apple's lineup.
Although talk from multiple sources may lend some support to the story, the miniature iPad still carries some doubt because of the nature of the device. Apple would have to resize its interface once again to fit a screen in between the iPhone and the 9.7-inch iPad. The move could force it to have three target device resolutions on the App Store at once, something it has been keen to avoid given the fragmentation problems Android has with its own resolution variety.
Cost reduction has also been a problem. Most cheaper tablets have reached lower prices by sacrificing features inside more so than the screen, such as slower processors or reduced storage. Apple would need to cut features sharply enough for the price gap between the 7.85-inch and 9.7-inch devices to matter to buyers and also curb sales of the $199 Kindle Fire.