Why a Smaller 8-inch iPad Makes Sense Along With the iPad 3

Apple is working on a smaller, and likely cheaper, 8 inch iPad to compete with the Kindle Fire, Nook Tablet and Galaxy Tab 2.

Apple is expected to launch the iPad 3 in early March, with an announcement likely on March 7th and devices reaching hands as early as March 16th.

The new iPad is expected to be the same size as the current iPad 2, but will have a higher resolution Retina Display. The iPad 3 may have a quad core processor and improved graphics and 4G LTE. We’ve heard confirmation that the iPad 3 will have 4G LTE from several sources, including The Wall Street Journal. Read What to Expect from the iPad 3 for more details.

iPad Mini

Will Apple shrink the iPad to 8 inches?

According to The Wall Street Journal Apple has been working with suppliers to test a smaller iPad. We’ve heard rumors of a smaller iPad for some time, but the WSJ has a good track record with Apple rumors, so the smaller iPad could be real this time.

It would be a surprise to see Tim Cook announce a smaller 8 inch iPad on stage in March, but if Apple has worked with suppliers for some time, the smaller iPad could be closer to a reality than we think. I’ve heard from one source at a company that deals with the iPad in the secondary market, that his company has a plan in place in case Apple announces a smaller iPad in March, though he wasn’t hopeful that we would see the iPad Mini in March.

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While Steve Jobs was critical of seven-inch tablets, Apple has a history of changing direction after bashing a product if consumer demand is there, and the company feels it can do better.

Why a Smaller iPad Makes Sense

We’ve seen millions of consumers opt for smaller and more affordable tablets in the past six months, and while Apple didn’t show a bad holiday season by any means, the company may want to bring first time tablet buyers into the iOS ecosystem rather than allowing them to get invested in the apps and accessories on the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire which are cheaper than the iPad 2.

ipad screen

The iPad 2's display could shrink to 7 or 8 inches this year in the iPad Mini.

An 8 inch iPad would be a cheaper device, which would allow Apple to court the price conscious consumer, and it would give the company an easier entry into schools where it hopes to launch an eTextbook program nationwide. Smaller, more affordable devices will be a key part of this strategy. Even with bulk education discounts, it is difficult for many schools, struggling with things like building upkeep and slashed staffing, to think of purchasing iPads.

We’ve heard that Apple wants to change the iPad pricing strategy in 2012, and this could be part of a bigger plan to offer several iPad prices, similar to the way the iPhone comes with different features and different prices.

Last year I described a potential pricing model based on two versions of the iPad 3, which I think translates well to the iPad 3 and an iPad Mini. If Apple announces an iPad Mini we might see the following prices across the board, giving the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet a tough go of things.

  • iPad Mini– $$249 – 299
  • iPad 2 – $299
  • iPad 3 – $499

Apple has already offered tiered pricing on the iPhone, and we’ve seen this with the iPod for years, offering many models at varying price points to make sure everyone has an iPod that fits their needs and budget. By doing so, Apple became the de-facto MP3 player.

If Apple does introduce a smaller and cheaper iPad, it would nullify this new Amazon Kindle commercial which boasts the ability to buy Two Kindle Fires and a Kindle touch for less than the cost of an iPad 2.

Would You Buy a 8 inch iPad?

I would seriously consider purchasing an iPad with a smaller display, though if the iPad 3 has a Retina Display and a smaller iPad does not, it would be a tougher decision.

Having reviewed several 7 and 8 inch tablets, I am a fan of the form factor and weight, which make them perfect for longer reading sessions and for carrying around in a jacket pocket.

If the iPad Mini is priced below $300, I wouldn’t hesitate to make it my go to gift for my in-laws, parents and my sister.

iPad screen 2

Will the iPad Mini have a Retina Display?

Like many shoppers, my mother bought a Nook Color instead of the iPad mainly for price. given the opportunity to use all the iPad apps and multiple bookstores, she would jump to the iPad Mini when she upgrades.

Would you buy a smaller iPad? How cheap would it have to be to earn your cash?

 

  

Comments

  1. Jeonhamm says

    Apple is a high end market, i wonder why they’re trying to do this. They already have so much advantage ahead of other tablets.

  2. Sny_brown says

    Yes I would purchase it if it was smaller! I would probably purchase two! My main issue was the price!

  3. Anonymous says

    Apple will NOT manufacturer a smaller iPad. The 4:3 aspect ratio is all wrong to hold with one hand when needed and an 8-inch model would never fit into industry standard, Double-DIN (180mm x 100mm) automotive dashboards. Apple would be daffy to release a smaller device that can’t do double duty in the automotive market, which is ripe for upheaval. The prices of car head units (or even iPod interfaces) is astronomical and the software is terrible.

    Apple needs to upend the market with a versatile, 7-inch iPod and a 16:9 screen, not an 8-inch iPad.

    • HyggFffji says

      Kindle has sold millions of 7 inch tablets, Apple will join the band wagon or start fading out, history will repeat itself.
      And you are arguing over a 7 vs 8 inch iPad? Wtf? A 7 inch iPod is a 7 inch iPad.

      • hdboy says

        The Kindle is not a full tablet though. as for the 7-inch iPad vs. iPod — the aspect ratios would be different – a 7-inch iPad with a 4:3 aspect ratio would never fit into the opening of a vehicle dashboard. A 7-inch iPod with its 16:9 aspect ratio would fit…I hope Apple does produce another device between the iPod touch size and the iPad size.

  4. Johnmonk says

    The current iPad is simply too big for everyday carry, I have owned both models. But now I have the kindle, it’s the perfect size and goes with me everywhere.
    Aretina iPad is stupid, a ten inch retina display? Retina is for smaller screens, an unless Aple has figured out how to beat the laws of physics, we can not currently power a ten inch retina display for more than two hours with the current apple iPad battery. So unless they use a battery five times bigger, it ain’t happening.
    I hope for a seven inch iPad.

    • hdboy says

      Again, the Kindle is not a full tablet though. It’s largely just a text reader. I consider a “tablet” computer to be a more fully functional multi-media device. As nice as the Kindle is, I could never make due with its limitations. Even the color Kindle Fire has limitations I couldn’t possibly live with…That said, each person has his/her own needs and standards.

  5. AlexWhat says

    I would definitely buy an 8 inch iPad, if it was for $250! I would consider it for $300, but at $250 I wouldn’t even think about it!

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