Sunday, April 1, 2012

Apple to release 7.85-inch mini iPad, says Samsung official

Another day, another iPad mini rumor — but this one might just have some truth to it. An unnamed Samsung official tells the Korea Times that Apple is building a smaller version of its popular iPad tablet, and will use Samsung-made displays in the device. 9to5Mac was the first US-based blog to uncover the Korea Times report. Despite its ongoing patent battles with Samsung, Apple will reportedly buy $11 billion worth of parts from the South Korean electronics giant this year. Part of that $11 billion will go toward the purchase of smaller touch-screen displays, says the Samsung official. “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 official said. Interestingly, the 7.85-inch screen size echos a report from Taiwan-based DigiTimes, published last December, which indicated that Apple would release the smaller iPad by the end of 2012, most likely in the last three months of the year. The fact that both reports mention the same-sized screen could mean one of two things: 1) Two independent sources have information that an iPad with that size screen is in the works, or 2) the “Samsung official” read the DigiTimes report (or one like it), and is simply repeating that information without having any additional evidence. As much as we would love to see an iPad at this size — 8 inches is really the perfect size for a tablet, in our experience — it’s hard to take much of this seriously. That’s not at all to say we doubt its truth, just that we’ve been hearing similar rumors for so long now that it seems unjustified to believe such musings at this time. Also, the argument for an iPad mini most mentioned by the tech press and analysts is that Apple needs to release such a device to compete with increasingly popular budget tablets, specicially the Kindle Fire. But reacting to the market is not Apple’s way — especially not when Apple already owns the market. As Apple’s lead designer Jonathan Ive recently expressed, Apple only releases products that are better than what’s available. Of course, one could quite easily argue that every iPad, from the original to the ambiguously named ‘new iPad,’ are miles above the Kindle Fire in nearly every possible way, and at least a few meters above comparable Samsung tablets. So to release a smaller version of the same thing would, by default, be an improvement over what’s out there. So, will we see an iPad mini in the not-too-distant future? Unclear — but the Ouiji board of tech rumors has begun to push the stars in that direction. As with any Apple rumor, however, we’ll believe it when we see it

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