The hot talk in tablets these days is Apple’s expected release of a lower-priced iPad model later this year.
Apple’s been typically mum on the many reports it plans to release a smaller, less expensive version of the iPad this fall, but sources from analyst firms like DisplaySearch, that regularly check with supply chains, to industry sites and business publications like the Wall Street Journal, report it’s a near certainty that an “iPad Mini” is coming.
DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim recently told TabTimes that his checks with supply chain contacts show a smaller, 7.85-inch display, tablet from Apple is in the works. “I still expect it to happen in the second half of this year,” said Shim, told TabTimes.
The iPad currently holds a majority share of the tablet market, with about a 60% share, according to various industry estimates. But analyst Jack Gold says it’s not just a question of holding onto share or racking up more tablet sales for Apple.
“Everyone’s acting like this would be strange behavior for Apple to do a lower cost iPad, but they don’t have a choice. There’s absolute demand for a 7-inch tablet,” says Gold.
By Gold’s reckoning it would be a bigger bombshell if Apple chose not to bring out a less expensive, smaller iPad.
“You look at the Kindle Fire doing pretty well, and now Google’s Nexus 7 is set to start shipping next week, those are sales that aren’t going to Apple. But there’s a bigger issue than hardware sales,” says Gold, principal analyst with J.Gold Associates. “Every Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 sold means a revenue stream for content that’s not going to iTunes, that’s the real issue for Apple. You want to be able to control that content chain.”
The two biggest reasons to question whether Apple will release a smaller iPad are
- The late Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ well-publicized disdain for the smaller form factor which he said is ill-suited to properly navigate and consume much of the content on the web.
- Apple likes to keep things simple and focus on a few key models, whether it be Macs, iPhones or iPads.
But Gold says Apple risks letting competitors gain too strong a foothold on the lower end to ignore the market.
“Yes, it’s true, Apple can’t do everything and no company is big enough to do everything -- look at the problems HP has had despite its size,” says Gold. “That said, if you’re going to be the market leader you have to be able to deliver what customers want. If Ford has a pickup and GM doesn’t, that’s a problem.”