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Is Apple Developing a 7-Inch Mini iPad To Compete With The Kindle Fire?

Submitted by on December 18, 2011 – 10:57 am8 Comments

Any story that begins with a Tawainese trade paper quoting “sources in the supply chain” should definitely be taken lightly, but this latest Apple rumor is just too much fun to ignore. Those sources quoted in the DigiTimes say that the Cupertino tech giant is feeling the pressure from Amazon’s downmarket Kindle Fire, and has ordered 7-inch panels from LG Display while developing a mini-iPad.

The article claims that the smaller iPad tablet will be released in 2012, along with a revamped iPad 3. The current iPad 2 has a 10.1-inch display.

These rumors surfaced just days after Amazon flaunted the success of it’s price-slashing Fire tablet. While they have withheld specific breakdowns, Amazon claims to have sold one million Kindles a week for the past three weeks; and among the Kindle family of tablets, the Fire is the most popular. In fact, the Kindle Fire has been the best selling product on Amazon since it was introduced in September. Retailing for only $199 (compared to $499 for the cheapest iPad), the Fire was seen as a gamechanger in tablet computing.

In November 2010, Apple CEO Steve Jobs denied similar rumors of a mini-iPad, saying app designers had no interested in programming for a smaller screen. But with Jobs gone, the Kindle Fire possibly pulling away customers, and larger smartphones providing competition to tablet computers, Apple supposedly can’t resist the market forces.

Also, major analyst reported earlier in the week that Chinese technology companies were pessimistic about the lack of demand for expensive devices. Apple’s suppliers there were eager to develop a cheaper iPad, a push that could go hand-in-hand with developing a smaller iPad.

It seems to me that part of what’s driving this rumor is the shock that Apple may actually be vulnerable to market forces and consumer tastes. For years, Apple has shaped consumer tastes, not gone begging for them. Steve Jobs had an oracle-like ability to show people what they didn’t even know they wanted, and to always put design first. But Jobs’ death deprived Apple of their visionary, and the industry and competitors may get a guilty pleasure believing that his successors must now do business like everyone else.

Of course, the thought of an iPad that fits in your coat pocket is really cool, too.

What do you think? Will we see an iPad mini soon?

[Photo via OSXDaily]

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