Here comes the Apple iPad Mini

Without a smaller model, say a 7-inch iPad, Apple automatically forgoes buyers who prefer a portable tablet. Instead, Amazon will ring up a Kindle Fire (decent) sale. Or Samsung a Galaxy Tab 2 (excellent) sale.

Apple iPad 2 thinness compared
Battle of the Bulge: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, my favorite tablet, compared to the Apple iPad 2.
Apple iPad 2 thinness compared
Battle of the Bulge: Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, my favorite tablet, compared to the Apple iPad 2.

It may not be called the iPad Mini, but expect Apple to launch a smaller iPad. Guaranteed. It’s the rumor du jour surrounding the upcoming March launch of the iPad 3, and there’s a very simple reason why it will happen: market share.

Without a smaller model, say a 7-inch iPad, Apple automatically forgoes buyers who prefer a portable tablet. For them, if the current iPad is too big then Apple has no alternative. Instead, Amazon will ring up a Kindle Fire (decent) sale. Or Samsung a Galaxy Tab 2 (excellent) sale. Giants don’t sleep, however.

So there’s no doubt:

Apple will offer a small screen edition of the iPad.

I’ve written before that the tablet market is simply the laptop market redux. So if I say that I’m a tablet man, then you’ll agree. A diversity of models and price points addresses various target markets, use cases.

First, we had the 15-inchers. Then, 13-inch laptops, followed by large screen formats. Eventually we endured the silly era of the 10-inch Netbook craze. Tablets, of course, thankfully put the kibosh on that party. What were we thinking?

Samsung and Motorola are two heavyweights that have already headed down the path of product line expansion. Though theirs run on Android, it gives consumers choice.

One reason why it’s taken Apple longer than the Androids is that most (all?) apps for the iPad are optimized, or designed, for the 9.7-inch screen. Will they scale properly and still function on a screen approximately 30% smaller? Or will developers need to retool, and provide two versions of the same app?

Regardless of this potential hurdle, CEO Tim Cook and all of us know that the tablet market is not going to stagnate. At least not yet. There’s still huge opportunities for a variety of models, including multiple sizes, hybrid laptop/tablet configurations, and things we have yet to even imagine.

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  • jeffp

     It’s called an iphone

    •  3.8″ screen vs 7″ screen…let’s think about this here…

  • DV

    One of the main reasons Apple has been so successful with the iPad is the form factor. I was reading yesterday about one of the reasons Apple has been so successful in the marketplace and that is the fact that developers have to make different versions of their apps to run on the myriad of Android devices. If Apple starts this too it might backfire on them.