Mid October 2011 is when we first heard rumblings that Apple was working on a 7.85 inch iPad. The report came from the Taiwanese news agency Economic Daily News, who said suppliers have sent Apple 7.85 inch LCD panels to play around with. Two months later, almost to the exact day, DigiTimes said the iPad mini was definitely going to come to life, and that it would be out on the market by the fourth quarter of this year. Another two months goes by, again almost to the day, and The Wall Street Journal files a report saying Apple’s suppliers have “shown them screen designs for a new device with a screen size of around 8-inches”. Today we have yet another report about this elusive 7.85 inch iPad, again from DigiTimes, who says:
“Makers in Apple’s iPad supply chain have started delivering samples of 7.85-inch iPads for verification, with volume production likely to begin in the third quarter of 2012 at the earliest.”
“The price of the 7.85-inch iPad is likely to be set at US$249-299, since Apple is also expected to release an 8GB iPad 2 for US$349-399, and has lowered the price of the 16GB iPad 2 to US$449, the sources noted.”
Now why would Apple release a smaller/cheaper tablet? Simple really, to compete with Amazon’s Kindle, which is the second most popular on the market, despite being on sale in only one country: the United States. When Amazon does eventually bring their Kindle Fire to international markets, and trust us when we say that it’s pretty much guaranteed that they will, then they’re going to severely undercut Apple’s current $500 price point.
At the end of the day though, the real competition for the iPad isn’t going to come from Google or Amazon. All eyes are on Microsoft, who will launch Windows 8 during the fourth quarter of this year. We haven’t seen how low an ARM based Windows 8 machine will be priced, but it’s a sure bet that Microsoft is tired of Apple eating their market share.