SAN FRANCISCO — The reports of an iPad Mini by analysts, bloggers, reporters and other Apple watchers, typically quote unnamed sources in the supply chain. The expectation is that such a device, sporting a 7.85-inch display, would be released this fall and compete with other lower cost smaller tablets such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s recently released Nexus 7.
Gartner VP of consumer devices Carolina Milanesi readily admits she doesn’t know exactly what Apple will release or when, but she says even if the supply chain reports are true that Apple’s ramping up manufacture of a smaller device, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an iPad Mini.
“My theory is that Apple could introduce a smaller tablet but call it an iPod Touch,” said Milanesi. “That way they can keep the iPad brand separate and still say a 7-inch design isn’t good enough for a tablet.”
Milanesi was one of several speakers at a media event here on the topic of tablets in the enterprise sponsored by Logitech. Other speakers in the open-ended discussion included corporate managers in charge of purchasing or managing tablets and computer resellers.
Speakers agreed that 7-inch tablets can succeed, but primarily as consumption devices, not for content creation.
Death of the phablet?
Eric Kintz, VP and General Manager of Logitech for Business, says he’s seeing huge interest among corporate clients for replacing fancy desktop IP phones with tablets for calling and even video conferencing. Kintz says he himself has transitioned to the iPad as his do everything device, taking it when he travels instead of a laptop. Logitech makes accessories for the iPad including keyboards and covers.
Milanesi agreed tablets could start to replace desktop phones as workers get increasingly mobile and need one device to stay connected.
As for the 7-inch tablets, she expects them to be increasingly popular for consumers which could impact sales of bigger smartphones and so-called “phablets,” the bigger smartphones with touchscreen tablet features.
“If 7-inch devices take off, you can expect the push of 4- and 5-inch smartphones to die out,” she said. Why? Because a more portable tablet can do everything a smartphone can, so there’d be little incentive to carry a large smartphone as well.