Many predicted Apple would announce a smaller iPad, dubbed the iPad Mini (or iPad Air, as Daring Fireball‘s John Gruber calls it), on Wednesday September 12, when they debuted the iPhone 5. That didn’t happen, but speculation has shifted that it will be announced soon, likely next month.
Here’s my take on that…from another website I publish, The Mesa (AZ) iPad Examiner:
Below are some questions and answers regarding the iPad Mini:
• Didn’t Apple have a tablet device years ago? Apple marketed a tablet-style device, the Newton, from 1993 to 1998. It was considered the original Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), and became a casualty of Steve Jobs’ budget cuts after his return to Apple. The rumors started as early as 2001 that Apple was readying a new tablet, but somewhere along the way that project morphed into the first iPhone, which was announced in January 2007 and released in June of that year. The rumors of a tablet computer didn’t come to full fruition until January 2010, when Apple debuted the first-generation iPad.
• What will the iPad Mini look like? Most reports agree that it “would feature a display screenof less than eight inches” (CNBC), “the iPad 2’s 1,024×768-pixel resolution” (C-NET), and that it is, “effectively, an iPad 2: 512MB of RAM…[and without] a Retina display.” (MacRumors).
• Didn’t Steve Jobs dismiss the idea of a smaller iPad? Jobs famously said that anything smaller than the iPad’s 9.7 inch measurement would feature a touch display too difficult for one’s fingers to operate (he was known to disregard the stylus as a proper input tool). However, it’s since come to light that Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue as recently as January 2011mentioned the idea of a smaller iPad to Jobs, and he was “very receptive” to the idea.
• Why would Apple even consider producing a smaller iPad, when the existing one is so wildly successful? Since the introduction of the first iPad, many tablets from other companies have come and gone. None have even come close to approaching its position as the best selling tablet—for its size. Ah, and there’s the rub. A whole new market for tablet computers seven inches and under has developed between the smaller iPhone and iPad, with smaller price points to match. These range from Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD to Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 and Google’s Nexus 7, not to mention all the ones that are expected to be released soon that will run Microsoft’s new Windows 8. While Apple has historically not been a company that develops products based on the competition, it’s very possible the company believes this market could be another it might be able to compete in and perhaps dominate, as it has with its other iOS devices.
We won’t have much longer to wait. The original speculation was that Apple would announce the event that will in turn announce the iPad Mini/Air sometime in the first part of October. Given that it’s already almost the end of September, and Apple likes at least one week of advance timing for the event, word could come any time now.
If one even exists, that is.