The iPad 3 (or iPad HD) will make its debut next week, so naturally the iPad Mini rumors are springing back to life. The latest supply-chain rumor is that Apple has received 7.85-inch displays for testing and that production will start in Q3 2012. Additional details, a theory for Apple‘s decision to enter the mini-tablet market, and a counterpoint are below.
According to Digitimes:
Makers in Apple‘s iPad supply chain have started delivering samples of 7.85-inch iPads for verification, with volume production likely to begin in the third quarter of 2012 at the earliest, according to industry sources.
The planned launch of the 7.85-inch iPad is apparently to take on Amazon’s US$199 7-inch Kindle Fire as well as a comparable model from Barnes Noble, although Apple already took up nearly a 60% share of the tablet PC market in 2011, indicated the sources.
As I’ve mentioned before, Apple tests a lot of different form factors across all of its product lines. Many of them never get beyond the testing phase. I believe that Apple has tested “mini” form factors for the iPad, but I don’t necessarily believe that one is coming (yet).
More importantly, the logic that Apple will release an iPad Mini to “take on” the Kindle Fire is just stupid. That is not how Apple operates. Remember when everyone said that Apple needed to release a netbook in order to compete in that market? Steve Jobs famously responded, “We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk, and our DNA will not let us ship that.” Does Apple know how to make a sub-$300 tablet that’s not a piece a junk? While Apple‘s supply-chain manipulation is phenomenal, I’m not certain that it can make a $299 tablet to compete with the Kindle Fire and enjoy its normal profit margins. I’m also not certain that it wants to get into that fight.
What do you think of the latest iPad Mini rumor? Do you think Apple is interested in that space? Or is the company content to sell the previous year’s iPad as the budget model?