‘iPad mini’ ready for release?

“Even as rumors about Apple’s next generation tablet – dubbed iPad 3 – continue to grow, a report on another gadget called ‘iPad Mini’ – an iPad with a 7.85-inh display that could compete with Kindle Fire – has surfaced,” Wendy Li reports for The International Business Times.

“Taipei-based DigiTimes said that an iPad with a 7.85-inch display (iPad Mini) might be released by Apple in late 2012, or in time for the next Christmas, supposedly to compete with the 7-inch Kindle Fire from Amazon and smartphones with large displays,” Li reports. “iPad currently controls 70% of global tablet market and shipments are expected to touch 60 million units in 2011. However, as competition among various tablets intensifies, Apple will try to maintain its lead over rivals such as Amazon, Samsung, Acer and Toshiba.”

Li reports, “Apple has not confirmed whether it it will actually release a 7.85-inch iPad, but if it does, it will a major shift from what the company’s late co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs regarded. According to Jobs, any tablet smaller than 10 inches are ‘tweener’ devices – too big to be a smartphoe and too small to be a tablet. However, the fact that the 7-inch Kindle Fire is selling like hot cakes and Amazon said it’s the company’s best selling product ever might disprove Jobs’ opinion.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Unless people have evolved fingers that are now half the size they were last month, tiny-screen tablets like Amazon’s Kindle Fire are failures in the usability department. Tablets that aren’t able to be used are failures. After the initial Christmas rush, the returns will begin or they will be relegated to the status of glorified e-readers by their unfortunate owners.

One naturally thinks that a 7-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 7-inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad’s 10-inch screen. You heard me right: Just 45% as large.

If you take an iPad an hold it upright in portrait view and draw an imaginary horizontal line halfway down the screen, the screens on these 7-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the ipad’s display. This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion. While 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 their present size.

Apple has done extensive user testing on tough interfaces over many years and we really understand this stuff. There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touchscreen 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… The 7-inch tablets are tweeners. Too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad.

These are among the reasons we think the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA. Dead On Arrival. Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small and increase the size next year, thereby abandoning both customers and developers who jumped on the 7-inch bandwagon with an orphaned product.

Sounds like lots of fun ahead.Steve Jobs, October 18, 2010

Related articles:
Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire’s big security problem – December 14, 2011
Lack of parental controls on Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire lets kids charge up a storm – December 12, 2011
Disgruntled early adopters of Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire have slew of complaints – December 12, 2011
Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire estimated to play distant second fiddle to Apple’s market-dominating iPad – December 6, 2011
Usability expert Jakob Nielsen tests Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire: ‘A disappointingly poor user experience’ – December 5, 2011
Instapaper creator reviews Amazon’s tiny screen Kindle Fire: Bad game player, bad app platform, bad web browser, bad video player and bad Kindle – November 18, 2011
PCWorld reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Flawed, unimpressive, subpar; can’t hold a candle to iPad – November 16, 2011
Mossberg reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Frustrating, clunky, much less capable and versatile than iPad – November 16, 2011
Apple iPad 2 vs. Amazon Kindle Fire: Bootup, browsing, and Netflix streaming (with video) – November 16, 2011
Wired reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Web browsing sucks, emotionally draining, makes reading a chore – November 14, 2011
NY Times’ Pogue reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Sluggish, ornery, unpolished – November 14, 2011
The Verge reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Uninspired, confusing, incredibly unoriginal – November 14, 2011
Engadget reviews Amazon’s tiny-screen Kindle Fire: Sluggish, clunky, too limiting and restricted – November 14, 2011

PC Magazine reviews Apple iOS 5: The best phone and tablet OS, Editors’ Choice – October 15, 2011
The Guardian reviews Apple iPad 2: Ahead of the pack – March 25, 2011
The Telegraph reviews Apple iPad 2: Does everything better; now’s the perfect time to join the iPad club – March 25, 2011
Computerworld reviews Apple’s iPad 2: ‘The Holy Grail of computing’ – March 16, 2011
Ars Technica reviews Apple iPad 2: Big performance gains in a slimmer package
Associated Press reviews Apple iPad 2: Apple pulls further ahead – March 10, 2011
PC Mag reviews Apple iPad 2: The tablet to get; Editors’ Choice – March 10, 2011
Associated Press reviews Apple iPad 2: Apple pulls further ahead – March 10, 2011
PC Mag reviews Apple iPad 2: The tablet to get; Editors’ Choice – March 10, 2011
Pogue reviews Apple iPad 2: Thinner, lighter, and faster transforms the experience – March 10, 2011
Baig reviews Apple iPad 2: Second to none – March 10, 2011


    1. I thnk you ARE right HONEYDEW…

      lets not CALL THIS a mini ipad…
      LETS call this the NEW itouch PAD or a bigger ipodTOUCH.

      mini nothing focused on gaming yes I AM SURE you are correct.

      1. Absolutely. Such a device would have to be aimed at a specific niche (like gaming), or Apple would have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do after openly dissing the 7″general use tablet as unusable.

        Could be a TouchPad?

        1. Do you think it could possibly be a remote for the apple TV? I mean, It makes a lot more sense than a standalone product, and the gaming could also mean airplay mirroring to the Bigger screen while adaptive controls stayed in your hands?

      2. I have been suggesting that it be marketed as a Fat iPod touch for a while now. Apple can work around the comments made by Steve Jobs by stating that Siri has changed the user interface that required the sand paper the same way that Siri will take the “hobby” out of the AppleTV.

    2. Yup, gaming AND AppleTV with apps. Should be good for downloading, game controller, program selection, remote and hifi controller – all on a 52 inch plasma of your choice 🙂

  1. Never get tired of reading Steve’s quotes… Although he said current crop, so 7.85 is a bit like 8″ which hasnt been done well yet… If you take a higher resolution display and a smaller lcd 10″ apps might be able to be scaled to fit without any usability issues, perfect for children and women I’d say and people with less than average sized hands.. Any developer want to comment about this possibility?

    Steve could be right, if Apple still pulls it off, hope the hardware beta testers are of a lot of different hand sizes and ages.

    1. Well, if it scaled perfectly it would be possible. But there would be another problem that Apple and good developers would not be to happy about: File size.

      No reason to ship an App that’s say 30MB when it could be 20MB if resized properly.

      I’m glad the iPhone to iPad scaling was not perfect, or we’d see a lot less iPad apps and a lot more scaled up iPhone apps. Especially apps that don’t rely to heavily on graphics (text and UI buttons can scale up when made correctly in Xcode (similar to vector art and PDFs).

  2. Not. Gonna. Happen.

    1.) Apple makes products that are substantially different from each other. An iPhone is meant to be small, since it needs to fit in a pocket and is used in a truly mobile environment. iPad is large because it’s not a true mobile device (you don’t walk down the street with it or pull it out in the check out line at the market).

    2.) Apple won’t create a device that has no clearly defined purpose, and will cause buyer’s remorse or confusion. It wouldn’t be small enough to be fully mobile, but it wouldn’t be large enough to be full size. When and where would one use this thing?

    3.) Apple doesn’t want to fragment the App Store with screen/device sizes. That’s one reason we should expect the iPhone 5 to retain it’s current screen size.

    4.) Compete with the Kindle Fire? Apple’s going to release something in a year that competes with something shipping now? The Kindle Fire simply competes with one of Apple’s apps.

    1. Nailed it.

      I’m sure glad these moron analysts and tech know-it-alls aren’t running Apple. The Fire is selling for one reason: price. Amazon is losing $ on every one it sells. Does that sound like an Apple strategy? Even if Apple was going to make a tablet this size, it would sell for $350 — more than a Kindle. Who would buy one? What would be the point?

      *If* Apple was making a different size device I think a 5″ iPod would make a lot more sense. The screen could have the same number of pixels (so no resolution fragmentation) and it would be better for ebooks and such.

      1. “Amazon is losing $ on every one it sells. Does that sound like an Apple strategy?”

        Nope. However, it sounds *exactly* like Microsoft’s Xbox strategy. But without the Windows/Office hegemony’s financial support.

        1. Amazon does have some cash, but not as much as Microsoft. Their profit-making abilities have diminished these days. I think they made 60 million in profit WORLDWIDE last quarter. And they’re clearly gonna take a loss with the Fire. Based on this and their pitiful margins (2%?), I predict they will report a loss in January.

    2. People buy Kindle Fire not because it has 7″ screen but because it’s cheap. So, if Apple want to compete with Fire, it won’t make a 7″ screen, but simply lower the price, which is not gonna happen.

    3. Nice synopsis Marty.
      I agree with most of your points. Except maybe number two in terms of the use. It kinda relates to your fourth point. iBooks right? Reading. Apples current screen standard is pretty useless in bright sunlight. If the nascent book and magazine industry is to progress on the iOS platform I feel it needs to be readable anywhere. So the lynchpin is not the screen size to a degree but the viewability. Its all strategery 🙂 If iPad 3 is lighter and the screen issue is addressed, Game over. Analyze the cost structure of the iPod/iPhone and iPad lines, not much wiggle room for value perception through product differentiation by screen size. Not to say  wouldn’t add a mid-size screen but the economies of scale wouldn’t make total sense right now. It’s a similar strategy to the iPod line when it came out. The competition is still floundering to get a substantial foothold at any screen size.

      Those Amazon kindles are going to be just that…fire-starters for bigger iPad growth. They’re a cheap gateway drug…:)

      1. “Apples current screen standard is pretty useless in bright sunlight.”

        Kindle fire has the same type of backlit LCD. It is no better for outdoor reading than is the IPad. I tell people to do themselves a favor and get an iPad first. If they need to read in the sun, get the cheap e-ink Kindle. The original Kindle knows what it is: a book reader and does not poorly attempt to be a dozen other things like the Fire does.

  3. And how is ready for release ,Christmas 2012 ? Ready for release would be in the next 30 days .these rumours are to drive sales of iPad 2 down ,it’s a joke .apple may need to comment based on what happen with the iPhone 4s . The rumours are too main stream now ,the average person doesn’t no what to believe .

  4. I was in best buy yesterday and there were 3 returned Kindle Fires on a table taped up for resale at a discount. From the reviews and what I’ve seen The Fire is NOT a gotta have product like the iPad I bought yesterday for my 11 year olds birthday.

  5. Will never happen….as per the words of Steve Jobs and by the fact that currently Apple is in the “trend setting” mode, not in catch-up mode (bother literally and in the mindset of the company).
    They would not chase after a market segment that they did not believe in (regardless of what the rest of the market says).
    People do not want a small screen real estate tablet, they want an “as big as you can handle” screen size. If I want a 7″ screened tablet, I’ll just go buy an Android flavored smartphone.

    1. I fully agree to. Upscaling iPhone apps (especially games) is a great idea. Easier to play but big enough to read on.

      Make the iPod Touch HD a consumption device as opposed to the iPad which is more than just consumption.

      But what happens to the current iPod Touch. Does it get bigger or are there two versions?

      Ps. MDN I cannot scroll within my post section from my iPad. Can you please check it out. Oh the irony!

  6. Will somebody pleeeeese realize that anything we see in the next 2 years (or more) has had Steve’s stamp of approval? All the products that will appear in the next 3-6 quarters has been in the pipe for at least 3-6 quarters. A mini? Such an abrupt turnaround from the founder’s vision in such a short time? What next? 4.873″ iPhone 5? 12.625″ iPad(ded)? Viewmongous!

    1. Thank you. Whatever Apple releases in the next 2-4 years will be products that Steve Jobs put in the pipe. So if this form factor does get a release, it will mean that Steve changed his mind, not Apple countermanding his wishes.

  7. A 7.85 inch table at a lower price point is necessary to compete with Kindle Fires and Nooks. While it may not be perfect a a creation device – it would be the perfect media consumption device like the Kindle but much better. The 7.85 inch size is perfect for portability, watching movies and music, playing casual games, reading a book. At a $299. – $350 price tag it would open up vast new marketing in affordability and addressable markets. The Kindle Fire may stink now but you can bet it will continue to improve and Apple should not let the device eat into their market share.

    1. No. I don’t think it is. Apple simply can’t make current iPads, iPhones and iPod touches fast enough — they sell every single one they make. If that were ever to change, (devices not selling out), while a competitor’s 7″ tablets (or 4″ phones) are sell-outs, taking over the market, Apple will NOT make such devices.

      If Amazon were to try and sell their Kindle at the same profit margins as Apple is getting for the iPad, it would likely cost some $330 or so. Practically nobody would bother sacrificing over half of screen size in order to save some $170.

      There is no way Apple would ever compete with a hardware device that is sold below cost, especially if it is in a category where nobody would buy it if it were priced to make (at least some meager) profit.

  8. It would not be typical of Apple to chase after a competing product in order to gain market share. Apple’s refusal to compete in the netbook market sector is a prime example.

    Apple innovates.. others follow.

    1. He did mean it. Look at the history of the iPod touch. It appeared AFTER the iPhone, when it was obvious that the platform was capable of ruling the world. There were plenty of markets throughout the world where the iPhone was prohibitively expensive. An iPod running such OS would conquer those.

      As I said above; Apple will NEVER go into a category where consumers would normally never buy in (small tablets) unless the devices are sold below cost (Kindle Fire).

      1. he ment it as an ipad competitor. The ipad’s size is perfect for reading, web browsing, movies etc, consumer device. Everyone here is forgetting other uses. Like for example car systems on a dash. ipad to big, ipod touch to small. You can fit an ipad mini on the back of seats, in buses, airplanes, taxis. It’s just a blank slate. Diferrent sizes can have different uses. Like a 15″ device would be great for retail, cash registers etc. Apple owns multitouch. Laptops come in 11″, 13″,15″ and 17″ get it ? different tastes.

  9. MDN is going to look really silly if apple does release a mini. They love to quote SJ regarding screen size but the thing is people still buy 7 inch tablets despite what Steve jobs thinks about the user experience.

    The thing is… An iPhone has a 3 inch screen and it doesn’t stop me from using it all day every day. If I had an iPad I could comfortably grasp in one hand I’d use the sh*t out of that too.

    I know this may be hard for the site admins to believe but even Steve Jobs is wrong sometimes.

    1. As said above, there is only one reason why people are buying 7″ tablets: they cost as much as the 3″ iPod touches. Some people look at two devices side by side and conclude that bigger is clearly better (for the same money).

      People were happily buying Yugos in the 80s because they could buy them for $4000 new. If Honda were to give their Civic for $4000 at the time, they would have gladly bought that Civic, even though it is certainly too small for their family.

      In other words, nobody is buying a 7″ tablet because they need/want a smaller tablet; they are buying it because for the price of an iPod, they are getting a tablet; a puny one, to be sure, but still — it is a tablet. Obviously, Apple has no interest in competing in categories where real demand does NOT exist, and where fake demand is there only because devices are sold below cost.

      1. you don’t think a 7 inch tablet would allow apple to compete at more price points?

        Anyway you are wrong. I want a smaller iPad. I’d love to be able to fit it in the inside pocket of my jacket. Sure it wouldn’t be as nice as the bigger one but it would be more portable.

        Some people DO want a smaller more portable device and would prefer an iPad but there is currently no device to compete in that category and that’s a problem.

    2. I think you’re skipping the difficult part of why the iPad and iPhone are such different sizes…

      When you use an iPhone, your environment and state of mind are very different compared to when you’d want to use an iPad.

      Look at the iPhone introduction and the iPad introduction. Remember the call Steve made to Phil and Ive, while checking maps and emailing? It was as if he was on the go. You’d want it to be small, and you put up with it being small without even realizing it.

      Now look at the iPad introduction… Sitting on a comfy chair, different environment, different state of mind. You’d want it to be bigger, easier to touch and see, etc.

      If they were to introduce a 7in iPad, it should be called the iAdd. As in Attention Deficit Disorder.

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