The Wall St. Journal reported yesterday that Apple is currently working with component suppliers abroad to test a tablet device with a smaller screen than the iPad. The iPad screen measures in at 9.7 inches while these alleged prototype tablets have a screensize of 8 or so inches.
One person said the smaller device will have a similar resolution screen as the iPad 2. Apple is working with screen makers including Taiwan-based AU Optronics Co. and LG Display Co. of South Korea to supply the test panels, the person said.
Apple, which works with suppliers to test new designs all the time, could opt not to proceed with the device.
A smaller tablet device would broaden Apple’s portfolio and help it better compete with rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co. and Amazon.com Inc. It would also begin to emulate the strategy it took for its iPod music player, which it released in a number of shapes and sizes over time. The company has taken a different tack with its iPhone, releasing one design at a time.
The well-connected Jim Darlymple chimes in:
We’ve known for a long time that Apple has been testing different screen sizes and there is no reason to believe that they have stopped. With advancements in display technology and other factors, it may make sense for a slightly smaller iPad at some point.
Long story short, let’s not assume that an 8-inch iPad is right around the corner. Apple thus far hasn’t seen any drop in iPad sales in the wake of the Kindle Fire release or, for that matter, any of the 100+ tablets which have been released to date. If Apple comes out with a smaller sized iPad, it won’t be in response to anything Amazon or Samsung has out on the market.