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NYT: Apple's making smaller iPad, Amazon's making bigger Kindle Fire

We've heard plenty of rumors about the futures of Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle Fire, so we're not particularly surprised to see that the New York Times is reporting that the two tablets are headed into different directions.

Apple's trying a smaller device, while Amazon's trying a bigger one, explain the NYT's Nick Wingfield and Nick Bilton.

If you've been keeping your ears open for tablet rumors, you're probably rolling your eyes at this point. There's good reason to mention this particular report though. It's further affirmation of details we've heard before, coming from a publication with a knack for vetting stories and sources well.

Speaking of sources — Wingfield and Bilton have several who preferred to remain unidentified. These folks claim that Apple is "developing a new tablet with a 7.85-inch screen that is likely to sell for significantly less than the latest $499 iPad, with its 9.7-inch display." These details match what the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg previously reported.

It's hard to forget that Apple's late co-founder Steve Jobs spoke vehemently against smaller tablets as recently as October 2010. During an earnings call, he remarked that he didn't think 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.

But that wasn't always the line of thinking at Apple. According to a former engineer who spoke to the NYT, "the first tablet prototype Apple began developing in the mid-2000s had a 7-inch screen."

According to the engineer, Jobs thought the device was too small, and even wondered aloud whether it was good for anything “besides surfing the Web in the bathroom."

Perhaps things have come full circle at Apple and the company's giving smaller tablets a good look again, although as Apple-watcher John Gruber has pointed out recently, the rumored mini iPad is closer to an 8-inch tablet than a 7-inch one.

In the meantime, Amazon — who already makes an itty-bitty Android-flavored counterpart to the iPad — is looking at bigger tablets. A developer who was "briefed on Amazon's plans" told the NYT that the company "is working on a new version of the Kindle Fire, with a larger display, that could compete more directly with the iPad."

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