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Does Apple have a 7-inch iPad, Kindle Fire killer in the works?

by David Needle

February 10 2012

(IMAGE: ZDNet)
(IMAGE: ZDNet)

What’s Apple got planned for after the iPad 3?

Sure, the iPad 3 isn’t even officially announced, but with its unveiling reportedly set for early next month, some prognosticators have turned their attention to what else Cupertino has in the pipeline. 

Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, told Computerworld he expects Apple to roll out a 7-inch iPad later this year along with a specially-designed Bluetooth wireless keyboard/case he said would especially appeal to students. 

Even though the late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs dismissed the 7-inch form factor for tablets as too small to be useful for viewing  a range of content on the Web, Gottheil said Apple wants to head off the growing popularity of Amazon’s Kindle Fire. 

"Actually that's a good form-factor for some users, and although they will also charge a premium above other similar-sized tablets, they want to protect that price flank,” he said. Amazon charges $199 for the Kindle Fire versus the $499 starting price Apple charges for the iPad (more for a model with 3G access and/or more storage). 

A number of analysts also said earlier that they expect Apple to keep the iPad 2 on the market at a lower price after the iPad 3 is introduced, a scenario Gottheil agrees with. 

A sure bet for the iPad 3

As for the iPad 3, Gottheil said he expects Apple to include the Siri artificial intelligence program, that’s proved so popular in the iPhone 4S, to be included in the iPad 3. 

Most reports on the iPad 3 say it's sure to include a higher resolution display, probably double the 1024 x 768 resolution of the iPad 2. 

"That's important to them because it means the iPad will work well in their home theater play, since it will display full HD,” said Gottheil. “And it's an important differentiator [between the iPad and rival tablets] going forward."

But he disagrees with reports the iPad 3 will sport a new A6 quad-processor. Apple may call it an A6, but Gottheil said he thinks Apple is more likely to include a faster dual-core system-on-a-chip than the A5 that powers both the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, because the power requirements of a quad-core design are currently too high for Apple's requirements.

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