Does Apple Really Need a 7-inch iPad?

Everybody's talking about the rumored 7-inch iPad. Some are certain that Apple will introduce one this year in order to compete with Google's new Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire, while others are not so sure. Here, we take a look at some of the industry opinions about the possibility of a smaller iPad, dubbed iPad Mini, from around the web.

Pundits Weigh In

Adrian Hingsley-Hughes from ZDNet believes that Apple can sit comfortably with its 10-inch iPad while Google and Amazon send the price of Android tablets plummeting, eliminating higher-priced Android tablet competition, and therefore benefiting Apple.

Computerworld blogger Jonny Evans, on the other hand, says: "There's certainly competitive reasons for Apple to introduce a product like this."

Smaller sibling for iPad?

"Given the antagonistic hostility between Apple and the multi-headed hydra which constitutes the Android army, it seems unlikely Cupertino wants to give its enemies free reign in the space," Evans continues.

Evans notes that a smaller iPad would be good for consumers with a tight budget, educators, parents, children, eBook readers, enterprise customers, and retailers looking to adopt iPads as part of their NFC rollouts.

Others disagree, including Allvoices' Joseph Thomas, who reports that "There will be no 7-inch iPad, I guarantee it!"

Why? Because Apple co-founder "despised" the idea, which would make it a "radical; post-Jobs move that deviates from Apple's core strategy," says Thomas. He believes that Apple doesn't need to mess with its tablet range, because it is already so successful. Plus, it has a bigger profit margin than other tablet manufacturers. Amazon even loses money on every Kindle Fire it sells, focusing on the profit it will in turn make from eBook sales instead.

Also, Thomas thinks that Apple wouldn't price a smaller iPad competitively, because "they can price a roll of toilet paper with the Apple logo on for $10 and likely sell cases of them.

Follow the Money

TechPinions' Patrick Moorhead thinks that the recently unveiled Google Nexus 7 will sell well and "take business away from Apple's $399 iPad 2," which is why he believes that Apple will be forced to make a 7-inch tablet or suffer the consequences.

"Apple wants market share and will do what it takes to get it, as long as it's profitable, they can deliver a great experience, and stay true to their brand," says Moorhead. "Apple could do just that with a 7-inch $299 tablet. Apple would be very profitable as well, as the most expensive piece-parts of a tablet are the display and touchscreen, which are priced somewhat linear with size."

Daring Fireball's John Gruber also thinks that Apple could make a profit from a smaller iPad. "I bet Apple could make a $199 iPad Mini and turn a profit on it -- especially with a $249 version sitting next to it with double the storage," he writes. "If Apple thinks people would buy a smaller, cheaper iPad and that they can turn a profit making them, they'll do it. No reason to overthink it."

"Keep in mind too that Amazon still only sells the Kindle Fire in the US, and Google is only selling the Nexus 7 in three countries -- and outside the US it won't have music, magazines, or TV shows," Gruber continues. " Even if this iPad Mini doesn't ship until October, Apple will likely beat Amazon and Google to market in much of the world."

No matter what the opinion, though, almost all of these industry experts have referred back to Steve Jobs' famous dismissal of a smaller iPad in October 2010: "7-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad. These are among the reasons that the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA -- dead on arrival."

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For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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