A month after Apple delivered its new iPad, rumors are heating up about a new iteration of the tablet designed to compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
The latest rumor to make the rounds is that Apple is planning to produce 6 million smaller iPads for sale some time in the third quarter. The report, from Chinese portal NetEase, was translated by Kotaku.
The NetEase report is based on “Taiwan media reports” and is said to be based on orders that Apple is placing to factories in the region, notably Honhai Precision (Foxconn) and Pegatron.
The report comes after The Korea Times wrote last month that Samsung was supplying Apple with “new PLS-based LCD technology for smaller iPads.” An unnamed Samsung official also told the publication that Apple was “planning to release a smaller iPad, probably with a 7.86-inch screen,” later this year. The current iPad has a 9.7-inch screen.
Despite the latest reports, though, there are reasons for skepticism. First, rumors of a smaller version of the iPad have circulated since Apple’s initial introduction of the product in early 2010 and have not come to pass. Second, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was famously skeptical of 7-inch tablets, calling such devices “tweeners” that are too big to compete with smartphones and too small to vie with the iPad. Finally, Apple would likely cannibalize sales of its pricier iPads if it released a smaller, cheaper model.
Since Windows 8-based tablets set to hit the market later this year will be more in the price range of the current iPads, the real competition for Apple on the low end will be from Amazon’s Kindle Fire. However, Apple’s first-quarter results revealed that Amazon’s entry had a minimal impact on iPad sales.