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Reports: Smaller, Cheaper iPad On The Way

Reports: Smaller, Cheaper iPad On The Way

But some technology experts say they've heard this one before

July 6th, 2012 by Mark Huffman of ConsumerAffairs in News

The iPad, the first of the modern tablet computers, has plenty of company these days, especially with the entry of Google and Microsoft into the market.

So is Apple preparing to fight back with a smaller, cheap unit? Sure looks that way.

Technology sites are buzzing with week with speculation that the new iPad, expected later this year, will have a seven or eight inch screen, slightly smaller than the current model.

According to various reports, based on unidentified sources in Asian manufacturing plants, the new iPad would lack the high-def screen of the newest iPad model but would be priced on par with some of the lower-priced competitors.

While consumers might be interested in a smaller, cheaper iPad there's no shortage of opinion in the blogsphere about whether that's something Apple should - or would - produce.

Chris Davies of Slashgear notes the late Steve Jobs scoffed at the idea of a smaller tablet when competitors introduced them. Introducing a new "iPad Mini," he says, would be "one of the biggest turnarounds to date."

Anonymous sources

The rumors were fed this week by reports by both Bloomberg News and The Wall Street Journal, who said they found people who would talk about the details of the supposed product at component manufacturers. The sources said they expect the new product to be announced in October.

Bloomberg interviewed Shaw Wu, a technology analyst at Sterne Agee & Leach, who said a low cost iPad would be "competitors' worst nightmare."

Right now, the starting price for an iPad is $499. Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire both have seven-inch screens but sell for $199, giving them a decided advantage among price-conscious consumers. An iPad product the same size and same price could deliver a hit to sales of both.

It could also upset the apple cart (no pun intended) for Microsoft, which recently announced plans to introduce its own tablet, the Surface. Though details are far from complete, the Surface is not expected to be a lower-priced tablet. Microsoft has yet to disclose price information.

But yet another tablet product coming out at the same time - especially one with the Apple nameplace - won't be helpful.