Apple's mini iPad marks the end of the Steve Jobs era

Apple's control of tablet market is under threat as rivals force its hand

LAST UPDATED AT 15:00 ON Thu 4 Oct 2012

RUMOURS are gathering pace that Apple is set to launch a mini iPad later this month with 17 October pencilled in as the launch date for the new device. And it is reported that the tablet computer is already in production in Asia.

The new, smaller iPad, designed to do battle with new gadgets from Apple's arch rivals Amazon and Google, will have  a 7.85-inch liquid-crystal display with a lower resolution than the current, regulation size iPad, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"The smaller iPad would likely be wider and slightly taller than the competition," reports Time. "[So] it wouldn’t be as portable as 7-inch tablets, which are narrow enough to slip into a coat pocket. Still, Apple could try to compensate somewhat by slimming down the bezel around the iPad's display."

Although there has been plenty of speculation about the size, shape and look of the device, little is known about the hardware inside it, although it is expected to be similar to the iPad 2. It will also run on iOS6.

If it is unveiled, as predicted, on 17 October, it should start to ship in early November. But that would "put the company in a tight spot - tighter than usual - if it's not able to build up and maintain adequate supplies through the holiday season," warned PC Advisor. There has been speculation that the company may launch in only a few markets as a result.

There is a feeling that for once Apple is reacting to what its rivals are doing, and when it does unveil the iPad mini it will be a significant moment that really does mark the beginning of the post-Steve Jobs era.

Jobs, the founder and driving force behind the company, reportedly hated the concept of a mini iPad. "The 7-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with the smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad," he once declared. "The current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA - dead on arrival."

That assessment has turned out to be untrue and Jobs’s company is now scrambling to make up ground as devices like Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7 take off.

"Rather than giving the people what they want, Jobs's approach was always to tell the people what they wanted. Question his wisdom and you were shouted down by the Apple faithful. Of course that was back in the days when Apple dominated the handheld gadget space and could call the shots, but those days are gone," says Technology Spectator.

Launching the iPad mini might be the lesser of two evils, says CBS. "Apple does not want to lose control of the tablet market, and so far it has been able to hold its domination on the full-sized tablet front. But it faces danger both from the incessant push by Android vendors to develop popular tablets and from Microsoft, which could see a boost in popularity when Windows 8 becomes available on tablets.

"Apple must come out with a smaller tablet. It's the old business story of Apple being willing to cannibalise its own sales so that a competitor can't." · 

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