In a commentary on the latest rumors of Apple planning to release a 7-inch iPad model early next year, The Loop‘s Jim Dalrymple notes that such a device has existed in Apple’s labs for quite some time, having been developed alongside the 9.7-inch model that became the original release of the iPad.
To be clearer, the two devices were developed at the same time. They have pretty much the same specs, except, of course, the 9.7-inch model has a higher density screen than its smaller counterpart.
Apple’s tablet plans date back many years, even preceding those for the iPhone, which itself evolved from the early tablet concepts. Consequently, it should not be a surprise that Apple has been toying with various sizes and form factors over the years. Last year, it was reported that Apple had investigated a range of screen sizes for its tablet projects over the previous several years, ranging from 4 inches up to as much as 12 inches and including a 7-inch version.
For whatever reason, Apple decided to launch with the 9.7-inch iPad we see today, but it appears that the company has been ready to release a 7-inch version on relatively short notice for some time. With a number of other companies gearing up to launch 7-inch tablets over the coming months, observers are naturally speculating about whether Apple plans to match that size with its own offering. But as Dalrymple notes, Apple may not even feel that it needs to release the smaller model in the face of the coming competition.
The iPad is the one of the best selling devices in history. Why would Apple need to release a smaller version to compete in a market it owns. It doesn’t.
With a smaller model almost certain to command a lower sales price, Apple may be hesitating to release the 7-inch iPad as customers continue to snap up the current iPad nearly as fast as the company can stock them. Consequently, observers will have to wait for additional information to come to light to see if and when Apple begins to move forward on production of the smaller iPad or if it continues to sit on the design while undoubtedly refining it in its labs as technology advances.