Marco Arment, back in July:
If Apple were to launch a $200–300 7.8” iPad, they’d probably sell a ton of them for the holiday season — which means they’d need to start ramping up production pretty soon, if not already. If they were doing that, we’d probably see legitimate-looking parts leaked from the supply chain by now, but as far as I know, we haven’t.
Well, the production line seems to be ramping up because the parts Ukrainian iPhone got their hands on look legitimate. They report that the touch screen they got their hands on does not use in-cell touch technology, meaning it’s likely a 7.85″ display with the same pixel density as the iPhone 3GS, but with in-plane switching. I’d bet heavily on a 16 GB model with WiFi starting at $249, with LTE and higher-capacity models also available at the usual price differences. Black and white models will be available and, judging by the pictures, the black model will have a black anodized aluminum back, similar to the iPhone 5’s.
Why would Apple do a smaller iPad? It’s worth noting that they have no pressure at the high end:
Now, just over half, 52%, of tablet owners report owning an iPad, compared with 81% in the survey a year ago. Android-based devices make up the bulk of the remaining tablet ownership, 48% overall, dominated largely by the Kindle Fire. Two in ten, 21%, own a Kindle Fire, 8% the Samsung Galaxy, and the rest, a mix of others. (These numbers match very closely with sales data which put the Apple iPad at 61% of world sales, Android devices at 31% and Windows at 4%.)
This survey was also conducted before the introduction of Google’s Nexus 7 or Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD.
The vast majority of non-iPad sales are going towards smaller, low-cost Android tablets. If Apple can convince some of these people to pay just $50 more, they’re going to dominate in that market, too.
I also think Apple’s choice of naming is going to be interesting. The going name is “iPad mini”, but some people have tossed around the possibility of it being marketed as the “iPad Air”. I doubt that, for the simple reason that I see it as a name “reserved” for their line of computers1.
I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s merely offered as another size option, as Apple offers two MacBook Air sizes without additional branding suffixes. As of October 26th, you’ll be able to buy either a 10″ iPad for $499, or an 8″ iPad for $249.
In a similar vein, the MacBook Air wasn’t launched as a MacBook Nano. ↩︎