London: Days after a tech blogger said that Apple has a 7.85 inch iPad in the lab, Chinese web portal NetEase says Apple is planning a mini iPad to be released later this year.
The portal quoting Taiwan media said that the device would be released around the third quarter of this year to “counter attack” the upcoming Windows tablets. The report further claims that the devices will cost anywhere from $249 to $299 and that there will be an initial 6 million units ready for launch.
It is also reported that Foxconn and Pegatron are working on the mini iPad.
Some time back, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber revealed that Apple is planning to launch a small, low-budget tablet that runs at the same 1024 x 768 resolution as the iPad 1 and 2.
If Apple decides to launch a mini-iPad it would be going against the wishes of Steve Jobs, the late Apple co-founder and chief executive, who quashed reports of iPad going the small tablet path.
The Windows 8 tablets will go on sale later this year and are believed to cost a similar amount to Apple’s iPad.
Here is what the late Steve Jobs said publicly about “mini” tablets. Back in October 2010, he made an unusual appearance in the Apple’s (AAPL) quarterly earnings conference call to deliver withering tirade against Google’s (GOOG) Android mobile platform. Then he switched to tablets and said the following (emphasis added):
I’d like to comment on the avalanche of tablets poised to enter the market in the coming months. First, it appears to be just a handful of credible entrants, not exactly an avalanche. Second, almost all of them use seven-inch screens as compared to iPad’s near 10-inch screen. Let’s start there. One naturally thinks that a seven-inch screen would offer 70% of the benefits of a 10-inch screen. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a seven-inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad’s 10-inch screen. You heard me right; just 45% as large.
If you take an iPad and hold it upright in portrait view and draw an imaginary horizontal line halfway down the screen, the screens on the seven-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the iPad display. This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion.
Well, one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference. It is meaningless, unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of the present size. Apple’s done extensive user-testing on touch interfaces over many years, and we really understand this stuff. There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touch screen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.