There has been talk of Apple preparing a 7″ model “iPad Mini” for release before the end of 2010, in time for Christmas sales at the end of the year. Doing so, however, would be a mistake in my opinion, and here’s why…
Let us just take a look at the current ecosystem of iOS devices. We have the iPod Touch, which has a 3.5″ display and runs what is essentially the same version of iOS as the iPhone (depending on the generation of the iPod Touch of course, but lets assume that we have the latest version), just without the ‘phone’. Then we have the iPhone 4. Again, we’re looking at a 3.5 inch display, running iOS 4 just like the iPod Touch.
Then we have the product that acts as an inbetweener, a ‘netbook replacement’ for OS X users, between the iPhone and the 13″ Macbook. I’m of course talking about the Apple iPad. It’s got a 9.7 inch display and runs iOS 3.2 at the moment, although an upgrade to iOS 4.0 is imminent, and should be coming by November at the latest with a host of goodies.
So why do we need another product in that ecosystem? For me, the iPad is the perfect in-between product for those situations where you really don’t want to carry around a Macbook Pro, or other laptop, but your iPhone just doesn’t quite cut it for you on the road.
We’ve already seen that the iPad is going to be running a slightly modified version of iOS than the iPhone – it already does, but hopefully we’ll see a lot more unique features coming with the release of the iOS 4.0 update for iPad – and it’s taking a lot longer to develop than it did for the iPhone. Presumably, Apple are going to be incorporating some features from Mac OS X, such as ExposÃ©, in this update, so it’s not as easy a task as updating iOS for iPhone and iPod Touch.
For Apple to introduce a new model of the iPad, in my opinion, would be a step too far. The problem I see is in the market that they’re catering for. Nobody is going to be purchasing a 7 inch iPad Mini if they already own the 9.7 inch model; there simply isn’t any point in it. Therefore, they will, presumably, be targeting people who haven’t got an iPad as of yet, but offering them a slightly cheaper option.
But there lies the problem… The 9.7 inch display is perfect for a product such as the iPad. Any smaller, and you lose a lot of the purpose of the device. Rumours suggest that it will be running at the same resolution as the current iPad (1024 x 768), but then the 9.7 inch model would undoubtedly see a higher resolution for the second generation model to set it apart from the smaller model. This means that developers now have to cater for two resolutions when designing their applications, and it could create some design headaches for the Apple team too – they could end up facing an OS and product fragmentation as we’ve seen with Android devices.
Of course, Apple does what Apple wants, and I’m sure that Steve Jobs will take the stage and attempt to wow us with his latest “magical” device. I just don’t want to see Apple stretching themselves any thinner than they currently are, and forgetting about us Mac users whilst they’re at it.
Hopefully, the Apple iOS ecosystem will remain the way it is at the moment, and the Earth will indeed continue to spin. If not, I see Apple creating a line-up that eventually, even they won’t be able to manage.
Via – PCWorld.com