In what some are saying is a direct response to seven-inch tablets from both Google and Amazon, Apple could release smaller, more affordable versions of the iPad by the end of the year. According to Bloomberg, two individuals close to the plan also revealed that the company's decision to shrink the device was an effort to maintain dominance in the market.
So how small are we talking? If reports are to be believed, the new model will come equipped with a screen that’s seven inches to eight inches diagonally, though it won't feature high definition. Presently, the device is thought to be announced this October, which would suggest that it may show up on shelves in time for the holidays.
Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle fire are currently priced at $199, both of which feature seven-inch screens. Comparatively, the new iPad is $499 starting out, while the iPad 2 will set you back $399 for the cheapest model. For consumers who aren't devoted to Apple and are simply interested in owning a tablet, the cheaper option is certainly going to be more appealing. Since Apple wants to continue to dominate the market, their decision to go smaller makes perfect sense.
I'm a perfect example of why Apple has reason to be nervous. Since I'm currently unwilling to shell out nearly $500 for a tablet, the options that are starting to pop up are much more appealing. Although I'm not saying that the Kindle Fire is comparable to the iPad in terms of functionality, a $199 investment sounds a lot better than dropping quite a bit more for bells and whistles you may not fully utilize.
As of this writing, apple has yet to comment on the rumors.