Just when you thought Google and Microsoft would have a puncher’s chance to carve out meaningful market share in the tablet space, now comes word that Apple plans to come out with a smaller and cheaper version of its industry-defining iPad.
As first reported by Bloomberg, sources close to the situation are saying that Apple is planning to market an iPad with a seven-to-eight inch screen (the classic edition is 9.7 inches) that might cost as low as $200. The “mini” iPad could be released as early as this October.
In recent weeks, Microsoft and then Google have introduced their own tablet offerings (Surface and Nexus 7) that will be available earlier this year. Both were seen as plausible entries into the tablet space, with a better chance of playing ball against the iPad than anything else on the market with the exception of Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
Both Google and Microsoft are taking huge bets by coming out with their own branded tablets, undercutting long-standing relationships with manufacturers like Samsung and HTC. A soft tablet launch for either could have painful consequences in many respects.
Citing analysis from Sterne Agee & Leach Inc. Shaw Wu, Bloomberg posited the following:
“A failure to gain traction with the Nexus 7 and Surface, respectively, might also undermine the credibility of Google’s Android strategy and of Microsoft’s introduction of the next version of the Windows operating system, Wu said. If Google and Microsoft can’t make a must-have product around their own software, consumers may be harder to convince that hardware manufacturers could do it, he said.”
Of course, a smaller iPad is only one thing Apple may showcase this fall. It is likely we will see an iPhone 5 (one year after the debut of the iPhone 4S), and perhaps a fully-operational version of Apple TV.