In the month of November, there were more 7-inch LCD panels being manufactured than 9.7-inch panels, which are used on the iPad and iPad 2 tablets from Apple. In the past, late Apple CEO Steve Jobs had dismissed the 7-inch tablet market, stating that it did not offer users a good experience due to the limited screen real estate and cramped on-screen keyboard for typing, and early sales figures for 7-inch tablets seem to reflect consumer agreement with Jobs’ sentiments. However, with the introduction of the $200 Amazon Kindle Fire, a heavily customized Android 2.3 Gingerbread tablet with a 7-inch display, it seems that price may have been the deterring factor that prevented users from adopting the smaller tablets.
Earlier introductions into the 7-inch tablet market, particularly the BlackBerry Playbook, HTC Flyer, and Samsung Galaxy Tab 7, did not fare well. Part of the reason is that those devices were priced, at least initially, at the same $500 entry point that the base iPad retails at, but did not offer a necessarily better user experience.
Apple had also begun to decrease orders for the 9.7-inch panels, which could explain why 7-inch panels are now being made more than 9.7-inch panels. The reason for Apple’s decreased production may be due to the companying winding down the iPad 2 as it prepares to introduce an iPad 3 model in the spring.
Apple is also speculated to release a tablet with a smaller display than the current iPad, but it’s unclear when that would happen. The latest speculation posits that Apple may introduce the new smaller iPad family member in late spring or early summer.
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