NetEase is citing “Taiwan media reports” which are based on orders Apple has placed to factories, including Honhai Precision operated by Foxconn.
Citing a Samsung official as its source, they said Apple was “planning to release a smaller iPad, probably with a 7.86-inch screen,” later this year. The current iPad has a 9.7-inch screen, reports Baller Status.
The report claims that the devices will cost anywhere from $249 to $299. An Apple spokesman, as usually, said: “Apple Inc. does not comment on rumours or speculation.”
The well-connected John Gruber has claimed that Apple has a 7.85-inch iPad in its labs, but he does not know whether the product will ever make it to market, tells Mac Rumors.
However, writes Mashable, despite the latest reports, there are reasons for skepticism. First of all, rumors of a smaller version of the iPad have circulated since Apple’s initial introduction of the product in early 2010 and have not come to pass.
Second, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was skeptical of 7-inch tablets. He called such devices “tweeners” that are too big to compete with smartphones and too small to vie with the iPad. And, finally, Apple would likely cut sales of their pricier iPads if it released a smaller, cheaper model.
“I’d like to comment on the avalanche of tablets poised to enter the market in the coming months,” said Steve Jobs on the Apple’s quarterly earnings conference in October 2010. “First, it appears to be just a handful of credible entrants, not exactly an avalanche.
He continued: “Second, almost all of them use seven-inch screens as compared to iPad’s near 10-inch screen. Let’s start there. One naturally thinks that a seven-inch screen would offer 70% of the benefits of a 10-inch screen.”
“Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a seven-inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad’s 10-inch screen. You heard me right; just 45% as large,” he added.
Steve Jobs also said: “Well, one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference. It is meaningless, unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of the present size. Apple’s done extensive user-testing on touch interfaces over many years, and we really understand this stuff.”
“There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touch screen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps,” he added.
The Windows 8 tablets will go on sale later this year and are believed to cost a similar amount to Apple’s iPad. At the same time, Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet is far cheaper and therefore seen as more of a threat. However, Apple’s first-quarter results revealed that Amazon’s entry had a minimal impact on iPad sales.
Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee, a financial analysis company, said that an iPad mini is “inevitable,” according to the Apple Insider. Wu said the smaller iPad, which he believes to be 7.85-inches in screen size, would be “the competition’s worst nightmare.”