Technology Business Research analyst Ezra Gottheil speaking with ComputerWorld said that he expects Apple to roll out a smaller iPad with a 7″ display, dubbed the iPad Mini, sometime after the even launching the iPad3.
I believe that’s always been in the plan. Actually that’s a good form factor for some users, and although they will also charge a premium above other similar-sized tablets, they want to protect that price flank.
This would directly go against earlier comments from Steve Jobs that a 7″ tablet was too small, however its hard for Apple to ignore the success of tablets in the 7″ space, with products like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Galaxy 7, and Kindle Fire selling in substantial numbers to people who want a more portable tablet, something smaller than the 9″ and 10″ sizes of the iPad and Android tablets like the Xoom.
The Kindle Fire has recently estimated sales figures of around 5.5 million in the last quarter, although firm figures by Amazon have yet to be released. They did report that they had sold 4million Kindles (across all models) in December alone, so they are clearly having success with their new range, and the price and simplicity of the e-readers and Fire tablet will be a key factor. In fact Amazon’s recent commercial for the Kindle’s had a direct poke at the cost of the iPad, along with their usual hint that the Kindle has a better screen for visibility outdoors by shooting the commercial in a bright sunny environment.
Apple need to respond, afterall there is clearly a market they are missing, but they can’t devalue the iPad brand by dropping the price to the $200 so the introduction of an iPad Mini would allow them to be more competitive on price, although I don’t see them ever coming down to $200 but an iPad Mini could conceivably start around $300/$350 mark at least giving them a horse in the sub $500 tablet race.