Mobile Technology

Apple set to release 'iPad Mini' to battle Nexus 7?

Apple set to release 'iPad Min...
Mock-up: how an iPad Mini might stack up
Mock-up: how an iPad Mini might stack up
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Mock-up: how an iPad Mini might stack up
Mock-up: how an iPad Mini might stack up
The Google Nexus 7 - probably the best 7-inch tablet currently available - seen from all angles
The Google Nexus 7 - probably the best 7-inch tablet currently available - seen from all angles

The trickling of rumors suggesting an iPad Mini is in the works has grown to become a raging torrent, with mainstream sources now seriously reporting on Apple's plans for a smaller iPad. Previously, websites such as Digitimes have been the source of such rumors, but with The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg now on board there seems less and less room for doubt such a device is on its way.

Steve Jobs famously expressed his disinterest in the 7-inch tablet form factor on several occasions, eventually publicly ruling out suggestions that Apple was working on one. But with Tim Cook installed as CEO after Jobs' death in 2011 things have changed, no doubt inspired by how the tablet market is growing and evolving over time.

Google recently unveiled the Nexus 7, its first company-branded foray into the tablet market. The Nexus 7 is a powerful device being offered at a low price: US$199 for a quad-core 7-inch tablet with 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, and Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Most reviews are claiming the Nexus 7 to be the best 7-inch tablet available, with some even suggesting it competes with the new Retina Display-boasting iPad itself.

As well as the Nexus 7, an iPad Mini would go head-to-head with the second generation Kindle Fire models Amazon will likely be releasing soon. The online retailer is expected to announce both an updated 7-inch model and a new 10-inch model, thus competing with Apple on two fronts. The difference being that Amazon is focusing more on its own Android overlay and using the Kindle Fire as a trojan horse designed to encourage users to buy digital content. Apple and Google are much more focused on delivering solid hardware.

The present set of rumors related to the iPad Mini suggest it will boast a touchscreen measuring between 7 and 8 inches diagonally, with an announcement expected in October 2012. Little else is being said on the hardware front except the fact that the iPad Mini would not feature the same Retina Display that really differentiates the new iPad from everything else on the market.

Some important questions clearly remain, specifically the price and hardware configuration of the iPad Mini. The former will be especially critical in determining how any battle waged between Apple and Google will play out. Apple has the advantage of a strong brand, a passionate user-base, a network of retail stores, and an ecosystem of apps and content that comprehensively beats Google's own. But Google is not chasing the high profit margins for which Apple is notorious.

The stage is set for an interesting battle between these two technology giants.

Sources: Bloomberg & The Wall Street Journal

Chrispian Burks
Totally agree that we'll see an iPad somewhere in the 7" form factor sooner than later. It's catching on and I'm holding out for a good one at that size. I mentioned on FB already, but the Nexus 7 looks pretty good and tablets are only going to get better. Someone is bound to create one that can compete on hardware with Apple and if it's also priced to move at a 7" format then Apple will have a real threat finally. Not to mention, that size is just so much more practical. Like you, I don't take too much stock in rumors, but after this much buzz I think were going to see a 7" model from Apple.
Since Apple sued Samsung since Samsung products resembled Apple products, I wonder if Google will sue Apple for having a product that resembles the Nexus 7? As they say, 'what goes around comes around'. :)
Apple have previously said that 7-inch tablets are "dead on arrival". Steve Jobs said that in 2011. You'd think that would make it clear that they had no intention of ever developing a 7" variant of the iPad. Truth was, that was just a jab at the industry to try generate some bad buzz for 7" tablets, since Jobs had the ear of many loyal followers. Reality is 7" tablets have proven to sell ridiculously well and are hampered by a lack of OEMs actually making them. You know what, I bet Apples been quietly designing a 7" iPad for some time. I takes time to get a product ready for market, I think we'll see it soon. Ultimately, Jelly Bean seems so ridiculously good I'm not sure the iOS interface paradigm is really going to be competitive, at least not without some new innovation.
I can't see how they'd manage to pop the iPad into a smaller package without loosing what we all love about it, granted it's heavy, I'd love a lighter version, who wouldn't. We must all have removed our cases several times by now, but it's such a slippery object without, if they only made it easier to handle.