July 4, 2012 at 1:10 PM ET
We've heard that Apple might be testing out a smaller version of the iPad plenty of times in the past, but now there are multiple reports which sound quite certain of the Cupertino-based company's plans. After all, it must intend to compete directly with the Nexus 7, a low-cost tablet recently announced by Google.
There are two independent reports — one from the Wall Street Journal and one from Bloomberg — both of which rely on anonymous sources "familiar with the situation" or with "knowledge of the plans," and claim that we'll see this mini-iPad soon.
According to the Wall Street Journal's report, component makers in Asia are "preparing for mass production in September of a tablet computer with a smaller screen than the iPad." This mystery tablet's screen will "likely be smaller than eight inches," the report explains. (The iPad has measured in at 9.7-inches since the first generation, for reference.)
Bloomberg's sources also suggest a smaller screen — they describe it as being "7 inches to 8 inches diagonally" — and add that it will not be a high-resolution "Retina" display like the one seen on the third-generation iPad. (Hello, cost-saving measures!)
Every time there's talk of a smaller iPad, I tend to point out a spiel given by the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs back in 2010. During an earnings call in October of that year, Jobs stated that he didn't think that it's possible to make a great 7-inch tablet. A 9.7-inch device such as the current iPad is "the minimum size required to create great tablet apps," he said.
Of course, plenty of time has passed since Jobs' rejection of a smaller iPad. The mobile device market has changed since then and Apple might be looking to compete more directly with smaller, cheaper tablets such as the Nexus 7 (or Kindle Fire, for that matter).
I've reached out to Apple for comment on the whole matter, but as I suspect the company will keep its lips sealed — as it tends to do when it comes to unannounced products — I consulted my Magic Q-Ball for its thoughts on whether a mini-iPad is coming soon. It said "maybe."
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