I have no secret sources. I can’t tell you when. And I certainly can’t tell you what it will be called.
But the rumored 7″ iPad mini will happen.
Two things have convinced me:
1. All of the math done right here in the blogosphere (which I’m shamefully too lazy to look up and link to) showing that at 7.85″ in diameter (which is actually significantly bigger than the 7″ Android tablets) current iPad apps would be reasonable to operate. So an iPad experience is possible at the smaller size.
2. This is not John Sculley’s Apple, it’s Tim Cook’s. It remains to be seen if Apple can innovate under Cook like they could under Jobs. But he’s been running the operations for a decade, and famously stated that they’d not leave a price umbrella for competitors. The iPad is shaping up to be an iPod-like market. They will absolutely not risk that with a 100% higher entry price unless delivering a quality lower cost tablet isn’t possible. And it looks quite possible.
They have an untouchable tablet ecosystem in both apps and content. They’re only vulnerability is price, which they know and will fix.
And now the two possibilities that might make me wrong:
1. What if Apple can dramatically reduce the price of the currently $399 iPad 2 (or create some new low end 10″ model) before Christmas?
2. What if Apple can’t make enough and knows it? Yes I’ve given myself weasel room here since they may never tell us. But Apple’s a much bigger player in tablets than anyone else–what’s a nice manufacturing run for Amazon or Google doesn’t cut it. And an unavailable product just freezes the 10″ market. Still I believe they’ll solve this at least in the US and largest other markets.
So my real prediction is that iPads won’t start at US $399 this holiday season (unless they really can’t meet worldwide demand at that price.) My guess is that they’ll fix that with a 7.85″ version. Both the Macintosh and iPod lessons are deep in Apple’s institutional memory.
Now I’m on the record.
And a lot of kids should be happier this December when they get real iPads. Meanwhile, as an iOS developer, I better get more focused on iPad.