Time to Admit It: A Smaller iPad Would Spell Doom for Everyone Else

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Reuters

Apple CEO Tim Cook at the new iPad launch

The rumors of a mini iPad have surfaced once again, and I’m starting to believe them. Both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal report that Apple will launch an iPad with a screen smaller than 8 inches this year, citing unnamed sources.

In the world of Apple rumors, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal represent a sort of turning point. Their stories about unreleased Apple products are usually vague on details, but the gist–that product X will be released during timeframe Y–tends to be correct, especially when both publications report the same story.

As a fan of competition and someone who generally enjoys Android–especially the latest version, Jelly Bean–I desperately want to be contrarian about this. I’ve been trying to think of ways in which a smaller iPad wouldn’t destroy Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet and Google’s upcoming Nexus 7, but so far, I’ve got nothing.

(MORE: Google’s Nexus 7 and Nexus Q: A Photo Tour of the New Hardware)

Price alone won’t be fatal. Despite what some pundits are claiming, I doubt Apple can hit $200 with a 7.8-inch iPad. The only way the competition gets that cheap is by sacrificing hardware profits in hopes of making money on digital content sales.

Apple doesn’t work that way. According to unofficial estimates, Apple makes about $150 in profit on the Wi-Fi iPad 2, which now sells for $400, and for the latest iPad, the profit margins are even greater. Content sales are just gravy. Unless I’m drastically underestimating Apple’s supply chain prowess, a smaller iPad priced at $250 or $300 seems far more likely if Apple still wants to make a profit on hardware.

But even at a higher price than other 7-inch tablets, Apple would do well against its competitors purely on the strength of its apps. No other tablet maker has cultivated an app ecosystem like Apple’s, which is why 10-inch Android tablets haven’t made a dent in the iPad’s sales—even ones that cost less than the iPad.

If Apple can pitch a smaller iPad as a less expensive device for kids, or for women to fit in their purses, or for gamers who want something easier to grip with two hands, I think it’s a winner. It would likely have all the same apps, as iOS developer Joel Bernstein points out, because even when scrunched onto a 7.8-inch screen, they’d still fit within Apple’s design guidelines.

(LIST: 30 Best Apps for Apple’s New iPad)

And it kind of makes me sad to think about it. I own an iPad, and I really like it, but I’ve also been using Google’s Nexus 7, and it’s really, really good. Android appeals to my nerdy side, with all its customizability, its lack of a walled garden and the simple fact that I can play classic video game emulators on it.

But I know most people don’t care about any of that, and even though Android is now fast and fluid enough for curb appeal, the advantages it offers over iOS still aren’t obvious to the average user. Apple is the safe bet–the platform with all the apps–for which people will happily pay an extra $50 to $100. Amazon and other tablet makers can race further to the bottom, and they probably will, but they won’t come up with better products that way—only cheaper ones.

At the moment, 7-inch screens are the only place where Apple’s competitors can start to build ecosystems of apps and media–ones that could potentially come back to haunt Apple. With its own smaller, cheaper tablet, Apple could snuff those ecosystems out.

MORE: Jelly Bean Impressions: Android’s Most Important Update Yet

69 comments
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JerryChan
JerryChan

Jared, I think you need to know a little more computer stuffs to be called nerdy. There are many different kinds of classic video games emulators that you can find for your ipad (JB, of course). It is better and easier to find in iOS, because everything is centralized.

Please consult with your computer genius friends first, before you wrote incorrect facts in your article.

Mark
Mark

The only thing to admit is that tablets are an Apple only phenomenon drives simply by the fanboys that buy anything Apple launches. 

Smartphones are for portable applications that can fit in a pocket,  laptops and desktop pcs are for power hungry use and Tablets are in the awkrawd position in between, being too big for decent portability and too weak for power use.

They are good for mobile browsing and reading a book but for everything else they are only the second best.

   A market for tablets outside of Apple just doesn't exist.  It's a fashion device, not a useful device. 

Bryan Wu
Bryan Wu

ok, i like the small ipad.

wayno24
wayno24

Haha, the author lost me at (and I'm paraphrasing) "when Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal both predict the same thing at the same time then it will definitely happen..." umm are we just supposed to take ur word for it, because I find it difficult to believe you have done a statistical analysis of the "turning point" nature of these publications. Nor do I believe there are droves of techies who hold this same opinion. The theory sounds a bit crackpot to me, it's like the type a friend might tell you when he's got a juicy story but no evidence. That's not to say it won't happen that iPad mini's come out and all, but just believing something to be true doesn't necessitate a supporting theory, especially a weak one.

Una Dagger
Una Dagger

My family owns two iPads, to Kindle Fires, and two original e-Ink Kindles.  The reason I prefer my Kindle has nothing to do with a "smaller screen", and everything to do with e-Ink and a month-long battery life.  Oh, and the $89 price point.  And the instant connection to Amazon.  None of which Apple can provide.   In fact, the ONLY thing that my iPad had going for it is the screen size.

Frederick Edwards
Frederick Edwards

I've never drank the Apple Kool-Aid, but at under $250 Apple would be hitting that sweet consumer spot that would push many to try.  I'm actually considering my first Android device because of the Nexus and Galaxy Tab2 both hitting that same price range.

sonic91
sonic91

I think it isn't smaller iPad that will arrive, but iCamera, or Apple digital camera.

What's new? Hmm...  imagine an iPhone 4s with interchangeable camera...

chromaniac
chromaniac

Seriously? 

Not everyone is drinking the Apple Kool-Aid. 

Ken Lord
Ken Lord

time to admit that this article is stupid... I don't want a smaller ipad... the ipod touch has been around for a while, and I still wanted a samsung... big screen means easy writing for my shop, durability instead of prettiness matters, and samsung doesn't treat their products like you just borrowed them for all that money, they actually let you USE them however you please. Smaller isn't better... I don't need a smaller keyboard, a smaller monitor, a smaller case, a smaller mouse, a smaller desk... I need some people with common sense instead of gimmicky cruft.

Christopher Kidwell
Christopher Kidwell

No, it wouldn't mean 'the death of competitors' considering that these competitors are pretty much 'good bang for buck' unlike the iPad.

Victor LC Tan
Victor LC Tan

Time admits! being a clueless apple fan boy.

PeterBlood
PeterBlood

Oh there's a semblance of a walled garden around Android all right.  Don't kid yourself.  There's a walled garden around every device.  And you are either limited or enhanced by it.  I think Apple by and large has found a great safe middle ground that protects consumers.  But you're right, an added 7.85" iPad The Killer will rule them all.

Christopher Kidwell
Christopher Kidwell

I don't thin that they have found a 'great safe middle ground'. I personally feel that I should be able to install any application I wish on my device and that Apple should allow ANY app (as long as it isn't virus-infested or malware-ridden) into the App Store.

Even ones that compete with Apple's own offerings.

PeterBlood
PeterBlood

Maybe YOU don't think (as you are not here) but the vast majority do think Apple has hit a sweet spot. The ANY app thing has been getting Android into trouble with a proliferation of cheap crappy apps as well as more malware. They are also having to do similar things that Apple does to protect their customers, like it or not. I do agree Apple shouldn't keep competitive offerings such as other browsers out of the store but I think there already are other type offerings like this. Personally I am embarrassed by the amount of app riches available and me thinks thou doth protest too much. I hate geeks, though I am one myself, who are never satisfied when we've been given so much already. Go get an Android already if you think it's so great. I'm good here with Apple.

dollyrama
dollyrama

Samsung actually came up with a smaller Galaxy Tab first. Apple finally gave up its stuborness but it is too late, Samsung is kicking its butts all over the place.

James Lillin
James Lillin

A smaller iPad is an iPod Touch in every way, shape, and form.

Raymond Chuang
Raymond Chuang

I do think that a 7.85" (diagonal) screen, 1024x768 resolution smaller iPad is already finished.

Limited to 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi only, it will likely have full IR and some RF transceiving ability so it can function as a universal remote to control TV's, Blu-ray/DVD/CD disc players, and even cable boxes. And Apple may offer both 16 and 32 GB local storage, too.

Roll out such a device for US$299 (16 GB) and US$349 (32 GB) and that will be the end of all the 7" competitors from everyone else. :) 

vstillwell
vstillwell

What's left of our economy is melting before our eyes, we're still at war, some very powerful people want to fire up another war, and all Time has are articles on iPads and other stupid crap.

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

With the economy failing, global warming burning out the center of the US, an unsupportable human population and the Republicans and the 1 percent laughing at us, Apple provides a bit of respite from the horrors around us.

They provide plenty of coverage for the hard stuff too.

Katharine Teter
Katharine Teter

smaller, for women!

Psh.

Our delicate paws can't handle a whole 9.7 inches. 

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

I thought that was inappropriate as well.

I am a man and even though I don't carry a purse, I want one precisely because it is a lot more portable and practical than a full size IPad.

I have a Kindle Fire and it is a great Amazon tool, but a full function tablet it is not.

I have friends with IPad's but I am waiting for the Mini IPad because it is the tablet I want.

Jared Newman
Jared Newman

Not offense intended. The "for women" remark was in regards to fitting it in one's purse, not in one's hands. If manpurses were socially acceptable I'd totally do it.

Raymond Chuang
Raymond Chuang

 A smaller size also makes it potentially VERY viable to do the device as a universal remote controller if it can add IR and some RF transceivers.  How about making the Logitech Harmony controller completely obsolete? :-)

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

I agree that some tablets will fall by the wayside.

The color Kindles and Nooks are not powerful enough to compete.

The cheap and dedicated Epaper ones will probably survive.

The Google tablet is untested yet, but seems weak in comparison to an IPad.

Windows capable ultra-book and convertible makers will probably do OK.

But it is going to take some serious program development for other tablet makers to compete.

Slightly lower cost is not sufficient.

Apple, with it's established App base will set a high bar.

But, I don't think Apple actually quite wants the whole tablet market, too many anti trust problems.

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

The fact is, from a business standpoint, not introducing the mini IPad would represent a huge economic gain opportunity missed by Apple.

They can solidify their position as the preeminent tablet provider and don't even need to spend huge numbers of man hours developing a lot of new software to support it.

Basically they would be fools if they didn't do this.

Apple has made a few decent sized mistakes, but I don't think failing to introduce a Mini IPad will be one of them.

ignacio_mobincube
ignacio_mobincube

Will it be like a smaller ipad or like a bigger iphone? Isn't an ipad a bigger iphone already?

Yacko
Yacko

Smaller iPad because it would retain the 4:3 aspect ration. Reading documents in portrait is the Apple emphasis for the iPad device(s)..

Brian Schweitzer
Brian Schweitzer

All these articles from Apple fanboys amuse me.  iOS has 20% of the global smartphone market to Android's 60+%.  

People that buy Android-based devices aren't fleeing to iOS devices any time soon.  Android is a superior OS in pretty much every category, including voice recognition, display, variety, GPS, mapping, processor power, graphics power, customizability, expansion, and every other category you could throw at it.

However, according to several articles I've read, people that switch from iOS to Android are outnumbering people going from Android to iOS in actual numbers...which is a very bad sign for iOS, as the installed Android base is so much larger already.

Just because Apple will release a 7 inch tablet does not mean that I won't be getting the Nexus 7 and will most likely be picking up an S3 in the very near future as well...

It's not about competing on size alone...  it's about the quality of the product and the value to the consumer.  Unfortunately for Apple,  Android-based systems are both less expensive and better in nearly every way.  Apple has always had good build quality, but my dad's iPad 2 has had to be repaired 2 times for cracked screens, both because of a minor drop, but we're talking from the couch to the floor.  My son, on the other hand, has a 7" android tablet, is clumsy as all get out, drops the thing onto his unpadded floor 3-4 times a week...  and it's not even scratched yet.  

If iOS fanboys would be willing to take the plunge for 1 contract cycle on an Android phone, they wouldn't go back.

dufusdude
dufusdude

This was an article about tablets.  Apple currently enjoys ownership of 67% of the worldwide market for tablets.  Android's marketshare in phones is irrelevant.

Brian Schweitzer
Brian Schweitzer

It's not at all irrelevant.  People with 1 android device have a higher likelihood to buy another.  After using my android phone, I bought an android tablet for my son.  My dad had an iPhone for work, and purchased an iPad.  The tree branches from the root...

If the global market is 60% Android, they have a larger audience to target on the tablet side for "loyalty".  Since more people have smartphones than tablets, the 67% figure isn't too relevant in my opinion, as the android tablets haven't hit full stride as they have on the phone side of things.

Yacko
Yacko

BTW, you are right. Clumsy people should own android.

Marianne Oudshoorn
Marianne Oudshoorn

I would never buy any apple product, just a matter of priciple for me. I don't like the way they are doing business and try to cast every opponent out with all kind of sues all over the world.

Brian Schweitzer
Brian Schweitzer

Apple's lack of a sustainable product is what spurs their lawsuits.  They know they're toast in the global market unless they either:

A. Innovate themselves

B. Sue to stop other companies progress long enough to innovate themselves

They've chosen option #2.  For some reason, the world's richest company is too stingy to innovate anything new, but spends all their time and energy in court.

How about this...  Create a better product, and you may win the race.  Until then, this is Android's race to lose - and Google doesn't give up on their successful endeavors.

paul
paul

 hahahahahaha Whatever@flux8:disqus

 Apple is the most succesful company in History and you say it's  Android's race to lose? Apple innovates wether you choose to believe it or not, but the secret to Apple's success is to build things that all people like using. Sure you get the occasional person who like to modify his own crap, but not grandma all the way down to children who don't have to know anything about the iPad, but just pick it up and use it.

The problem with everyone is that they don't understand why Apple is successful, but say others had the ideas first, so Apple copied, or whatever. Apple made idea that other may have had first, but failed to listen to customers and didn't build what people wanted. Apple knew this and they changed things just enough (I would call that innovation) to where people lined up in droev to buy it. And guess what, people still love them and will still keep buying them because they are great products.

If you don't belive me, then look at Apple's stock price and try to tell yourself Apple doesn' tknow what they are doing.

Michael Jardeen
Michael Jardeen

Since when did ignorance become a point of view? Seriously, Apple sues because they have to in order to defend IP and Patents, do blame them for doing what Patent law requires is silly. Change Patent law if you want the landscape the change. In the meatime both Google/Motorola and Samsung are bing investigated for FRAND Patent abuse by the US and Europe, which is some seriously evil stuff. The reason for the abuse of FRAND patents is because both companies know they are screwed on the inovative patent front.

Your comment about a lack of sustainable products makes me chuckle in derission. Products are only sustainable as long as people buy them. Apple owns the tablet maket and as this article points out a 7" tablet will drown that market as it is the only niche anyone has a chance in, limited as that chance is. On the profit front and from the stand point of a fractured market, Google is in a world of hurt right now. Other than Samsung no one else is making money and Apple does not charge any more than anyone else so the 'overpriced' argument falls to pieces.

rattyuk
rattyuk

Save that they actually put these actions into place years ago. I hate that people equate what is happening now - such as a GIII release and the ensuing hype and are mapping that to "Apple have to sue because they are losing". Nonsense. These court cases take years to come to fruition which is precisely why we get KIRF knockoffs from Samsung. By the time Apple wins any injunctions they have moved on.

Taxpyer
Taxpyer

 The Apple patents granted and the ensuing lawsuits are exactly what is wrong with the patent system.

melci
melci

Err, Nokia sued Apple first back just after the iPhone was released and far worse than Apple used Standards Essential FRAND (Fair, Reasonable And Non-Discriminatory) patents to try and extort un-Fair, un-Reasonable and completely Discriminatory license payments out of Apple and access to their multi-touch UI.

Motorola more recently has done exactly the same - sued Apple first and used Standards Essential FRAND patents to try and take Apple down even though the Qualcomm chips Apple used for their baseband hardware was already licensed. Motorola even succeeded at getting various Apple products including iPhones banned in Germany for a time. And now Google owns Motorola and is egging them on.

Samsung and HTC are also abusing Standards Essential patents in litigation against Apple while Apple is Bly using simple patents such as "slide to unlock" which any competitor can get around.

So, as a matter of principle, I trust you'll never buy Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, HTC or Google products either?

Daner Doodle
Daner Doodle

time to admit it: time techland isn't a real tech blog.

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

Techland,

You might be surprised at home many Apple fans are getting tired of the closed wall eco-system. How many iPhone's / iPads / MacBooks do you need? Assuming it's well received, MS' entrance into tablets with W8 makes it a contender. Why do I need anything other than a phone with a 4.8" screen and then a 10-13" hybrid tablet (aka Surface). Two devices and I'm done, with some nice change in my pocket.

Next!

P.S. What does a 7" screen do that a 4.8" screen doesn't? Maybe Dell had it right all along? 5" inches, baby!

not_a_rap_fan
not_a_rap_fan

 Allow one to read what is on the screen might be a good selling point--something my iphone at times doesn't do without much frustration.

Jared Newman
Jared Newman

Something to consider, though:

Windows RT devices will be closed-wall ecosystems. On ARM-based devices, the Windows Store is your only option for software. (That's one of the main reasons I'm personally more interested in x86 Windows 8 devices instead.)

Regardless of whether some people are getting tired of the walled garden, it's working well enough for Apple that Microsoft now wants in. Both companies are doing what they think is best for business, and I don't blame them. But yeah, it's disappointing that average consumers don't seem to care.

Sam Trutna
Sam Trutna

 I should have clarified the "upper echelon" statement. I was speaking in more from the marketing and price standpoint. Thank you for answering my questions though. The steam example is a good one, but like you I enjoy being able to step away from that system if I choose/need to. Hence my curiosity about software support outside of the app stores on Win 8 tablets

Jared Newman
Jared Newman

The Windows 8 machines that run x86 (non-ARM) processors will still support desktop apps from outside the store. It won't be a closed-wall ecosystem, but keep in mind that Metro-style apps (which support side-by-side snapping, universal search, charms bar sharing and live tiles on the Start screen) can only come from the Windows Store, and are therefore subject to Microsoft's approval. It's still not totally open.

Not sure what you mean by "upper echelon." In terms of performance, both x86 and ARM have their own strengths and weaknesses. For now, MS seems equally interested in both.

I'm not categorically opposed to closed app stores. In many ways they are beneficial. But I really like the ability to stray outside of any app store as needed. To use a non-Apple example, I play a lot of PC games, and buy them through Steam when possible, because I don't have to re-enter payment information to buy something, and I know they'll be available on any PC I own from here on out. The important thing is that if Steam doesn't have what I need or doesn't have the lowest price, I can still go elsewhere.

Sam Trutna
Sam Trutna

Correct me if I'm wrong here, but I had been under the impression that the upper echelon Win 8 tablets wouldn't be using ARM processors. If that's the case, will it still be a closed wall ecosystem?

I ask because this is what has kept me from caring about tablets, that they're being treated as gadgets rather than the fully functional personal computing devices they could become.

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Daner Doodle
Daner Doodle

i also like the dancing around facts: apple is now aping android's feature set in an attempt to stay relevant. please elaborate: will this 7-inch ipad also have nfc?

flux8
flux8

My grandmother, my parents, my parents' friends, and my non-techie friends - none of them know what NFC is.  Nor would they care (even if any of them were capable of understanding what it is, how it works, or why it could be useful).  

This is why so many techies continue to not understand why Apple sells better than everyone else. Bottom-line: purchasing decisions by most people are not based solely on tech specs.  And when they are, it's only with regards to specs your average Joe or Jane can understand, perceive, or care about.  All of the people above can understand a sharper screen with deeper colors - a Retina screen.  They can appreciate pretty aluminum cases.  They love simplicity that eliminates the need to understand tech.  If that's not for you that's okay.  But it doesn't invalidate other people's reasons to buy Apple.

Also, no one cares who came up with what spec first except patent lawyers. And tech geeks religiously devoted to their toys. Using this argument, every tablet that came after iPad (all of them) copied the iPad.

Darktanone
Darktanone

Who really cares about NFC? Who out there considers this a deal breaker in the purchase decision? Practically no one, I'd say! Google jumped on that bandwagon too soon and so far it's been a complete failure. So are you really touting a failed feature as a selling point?

Anpadh
Anpadh

 Right! So the banks and credit card companies are going to buy millions of NFC-enabled competitors to the iPad and give them away for free? If the consumer doesn't care, it doesn't matter who does.

Darktanone
Darktanone

Banks and credit card companies are not customers.

Marhault
Marhault

Like with most technologies, NFC looks like something that is great to have but useless - in a few years, it may replace your wallet

Daner Doodle
Daner Doodle

who cares about nfc? banks amp; credit card companies, you know, just no one.

dufusdude
dufusdude

Really a bizarre point of view.  There are definitely a few features in Android that have "inspired" Apple.  On the other hand, when looked at in totality (you know, the forest instead of the trees), virtually EVERYTHING an Android phone is was "inspired" by the iPhone.  Fully 12 months after the iPhone's introduction, the Android prototype being proudly announced by Google was a flip phone.  The entire market for "smart phones" has been taken over by phones that are virtual copies of the iPhone - from the Big Picture perspective.  Not every feature, not the icons, not the rounded corners - the concept of a fully touch-enabled phone with apps, a real browser, and a persistent internet connection.  

As for NFC, Apple has been rumored to have been working on an NFC phone for years.  Just because Google releases one first doesn't mean Apple's entry will be a copy.  It's quite possible that Google was "inspired" to add NFC because of the rumors about Apple.

dufusdude
dufusdude

Certainly, Win Mobile sort of "had" these features, (except for the total touch thingy), but they were unusable.  

I guess you're one of those that figure the iPhone sells well only because of "sheeples" and marketing.

Daner Doodle
Daner Doodle

you are incorrect: everything you just said was originally available on windows mobile phones, and the original android prototype looked more like a blackberry: but since android is created to be hardware agnostic it seems no one hardware form factor is definitive, making your points moot.

as far as your last sentence, it ignores the basic fact that consistent code updates from google mean android will always receive support for innovative tech first, regardless if it become popular or not. sorry, but android is leading the way to the future (via the same company making wearable computers amp; driverless cars) but characters like you will still attempt to portray apple as a corp. filled to the brim with innovative, imaginative geniuses.