Details of Apple’s rumored plans to release a 7-inch version of the iPad appeared in a Korean newspaper report that focused mainly on the company's multi-billion partnership with electronics parts supplier Samsung.
The Korea Times says Apple will spend as much as $11 billion buying parts from Sansung this year, spurred partly by the addition of a smaller iPad.
`”The contract is expected to rise to $11 billion by the end of this year as Apple is planning to release a smaller iPad, probably with a 7.85-inch screen, and to sell more of its MacBook Air PCs using Samsung’s faster solid state drive (SSD) storage,” the newspaper quoted an unnamed Samsung official as saying.
Despite the late Steve Jobs’ withering criticism of the 7-inch form factor, rumors have swirled that Apple might be planning to introduce a smaller iPad since the release of Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle Fire last November. The Kindle Fire has quickly vaulted to the number two spot behind Apple, though the latest figures from IDC released this week show it to be a distant second with 16.8% of the worldwide market to the iPad’s 54.7%.
Apple has an agreement to buy parts from Samsung Electronics through 2014, according to the Korea Times. The two companies already do plenty of business together with Apple having bought some $7.8 billion worth of parts from Samsung in 2011 including displays, mobile application processors (APs), NAND flash chips and mobile DRAMs, making it Samsung’s single biggest customer, according to the report.
Also today, BusinessWeek reported that Samsung Electronics will be Apple's sole vendor for the high res Retina display in the new iPad because LG Display and Sharp didn't meet the company's quality requirements, according to an analyst at IHS. Samsung, the world's top flat-panel maker, currently is Apple's sole vendor of the display, Vinita Jakhanwal, a senior manager at IHS, told BusinessWeek.
The news comes even as Apple and Samsung are suing each other over patent issues related to the two company’s respective tablets, the iPad and Galaxy Tab.
Last week Digitimes, the Taiwan-based site that tracks what component suppliers in the computer and device supply chain are up to, said its sources expect Amazon to introduce two new tablets this year. One, like the Kindle Fire, will be a 7-inch model, while the other will sport a 10-inch display. Both are expected out in the second half of this year.
Strictly speaking a 7.85-inch iPad could be considered an 8-inch model given that the current iPad’s dimension is generally rounded up to 10-inches (the actual display size is only a 9.7-inches).