updated 06:55 am EST, Tue February 14, 2012
Apple could be prepping 8-inch iPad
A fresh rumor has surfaced suggesting that Apple may be sampling 8-inch tablet displays from AU Optronics and LG Display, according to WSJ . Apple is known to experiment with different displays for its devices, which do not always make it to market. However, while most people opt for 10-inch tablets where the iPad dominates, smaller tablets such as the Amazon Kindle Fire have made significant inroads into the expanding tablet market, costing Apple total market share.
'Samsung's 5.3-inch Galaxy Note and Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire have been selling well. It means consumers want a tablet that is smaller than the existing 9.7-inch iPad,' said Diana Wu, an analyst with Capital Securities. '[The] iPad's features are good enough, but pricing would be an important factor in the mass market, especially in big emerging markets like China and India.'
Although the late Steve Jobs argued that the optimal size for a tablet the size of the current iPad was 'the minimum size required to create great tablet apps,' Apple's share of the total tablet market has slipped to over 60 percent of world-wide tablet shipments. Although Market share has not necessarily been a driving force for Apple as it has generally avoided addressing the lower end of the market, retaining a sizable overall market share remains critical to the company.
Manufacturers have had the most success when competing in the tablet space by targeting devices at around 7-inches, where Apple does not currently offer a direct alternative. An 8-inch iPad may offer users who are looking for the added mobility in a tablet, without sacrificing too much of the user experience enjoyed with a larger display. Further, with Apple moving to higher resolution displays, it is perhaps more feasible to offer a smaller tablet 8-inch tablet with a similar resolution to the current 9.7-inch model, without forcing developers to accommodate yet another set of screen dimensions.
Rumors of Apple testing a smaller iPad first surfaced in late December. At the time, Digitimes reported that AU Optronics and LG Display were again the supposed suppliers of a 7.85-inch display. However, if it did materialize, and Apple moved to ship such a device, it was thought that it would not go into production until Q2 this year with shipments commencing in Q3.
Apple is expected to reveal a 9.7-inch iPad 3 on March 7.