Apple to Launch iPad Mini to Rival Amazon Kindle Fire in 2012

The ‘iPad Mini’ rumors are turning again, with the latest reports suggesting such a 7.85-inch device will be launched by Apple Inc. late next year.

Will Apple ignore Steve Jobs' decree that anything below 10-inches won't cut it as a tablet? The supply chain seems to be indicating it will. Photo: TheBlogIsMIne

Apple is “likely” to launch a 7.85-inch iPad before the fourth quarter of next year, according to the  sources in the supply chain, reports Taipei-based Digitimes.

Now, why would Apple go against Jobs’ wishes? “In order to cope with increasing market competition [from]…the 7-inch Kindle Fire…and the launch of large-size smartphones,” according to the report.

Displays will be provided by LG and AU Optronics (AUO), the report said, citing sources. Production is expected to begin before the end of the second quarter of 2012.

Global shipments of tablet PCs are expected to reach 60 million units in 2011, of which 70% will be Apple’s iPads. To cash in on market demand as well as market expectations, Apple is expected to release its next-generation iPads at the end first-quarter 2012, said the sources.

Many analysts think the same thing. That is, Apple is expressing interest in making a mini-iPad based on a 7.85-inch screen. Like Digitimes, they said this would come later in 2012 after Apple releases the next-generation 9.7-inch iPad with a QXGA screen. The latter is expected in the March-June time frame.

But in November 2010, Jobs tried to quash any rumors about Apple making an iPad with a screen less than a 10-inch diagonal, citing a lack of real estate for “great” tablet apps.

“Apple has done extensive user testing and we really understand this stuff…There are clear limits on how close you can place things on a touch screen, which is why we think 10 inch is the minimum screen size to create great tablet apps,” Jobs said at the time.

Jobs continued: “One naturally thinks that a 7-inch screen would offer 70 percent of the benefits of a 10-inch screen…this is far from the truth. Seven-inch screens are 45 percent as large as an iPad,” Jobs said. “This size isn’t sufficient for making great tablet apps.”

However, Amazon said today that it has sold millions of Kindle Fires and that “in fact, demand is accelerating – Kindle Fire sales increased week over week for each of the past three weeks,” Amazon said.

Apple’s iPad, launched in 2010, is the global tablet leader, but Amazon’s new Kindle Fire tablet has been gaining ground since launching in November.

Price is one advantage, considering the Kindle Fire pricing starts at $199 while iPad pricing starts at $499. But size also seems to be an advantage, according to reviews. The Kindle Fire has a 7-inch touchscreen, while the iPad has a 10-inch touchscreen.


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