Why we won’t Shut Up about 8″ iPads

Because such a device isn’t DOA, just competitors’ devices are, but those are also dead at 9.7″

If we think of the iPad Mini more like the 11″ MacBook Air and less like the iPod Mini we find there is, in fact, demand for something that’s exactly the same as something we already have, just smaller.

Plain and Simple: an 8″ device could fit in a coat or jacket pocket. Kindles, primarily as e-readers, excel because of this fact. You can only fit and iPad in a purse if you plan around it and for men unless you want to hold it all day you need a bag. Men’s jackets on the other hand, even the lightest windbreaker, have fairly large pockets. Over the years my pockets have had such ridiculous items as a 20oz Pepsi bottle, girl scout cookie box, enclosures for 3.5″ HDDs, portable external DVD drives, and, the Kindle Fire.


The new rumor that appeared while I was asleep (OK not asleep, but awake not refreshing MacRumors) has one appearing not next week but Q3-Q4ish. As a reminder, WWDC occurs Q3-Q4ish (Apple’s Fiscal Calendar ends in September). While that’s interesting in and of itself, there’s also the mention of price.

  • XGB iPad Mini $249-$299
  • 8GB iPad 2 $349-$399

This somewhat contradicts my earlier guesses of a 16GB WiFi iPad 2 at $399 and 16GB iPad Mini at $299. Being overly optimistic, I’d like to revise

  • 8GB iPad Mini WiFi $249
  • 16GB iPad Mini WiFi $949
  • 8GB iPad Mini 3G $299
  • 8GB iPad 2 WiFi $349
  • 8GB iPad 2 3G $399
  • 16GB iPad 2 WiFi $399

I expect apple won’t go both routes (2 sizes, with and without 3G) and there will only be on option, either size or 3G. My heart of hoping for 3G. An 8″ iPad would be ultra mobile, so you might as well be able to enjoy browsing on the go.

Of course, Digitimes is probably just grasping for attention. The potential problem with a cheap iPad Mini is if its low price causes it to overtake the full-sized iPads. The reason competitor’s 7″ offerings aren’t doing so is because they’re terrible. Apple won’t make something terrible, but perhaps they’ll intentionally cripple it feature-wise so people understand the tradeoff. Off the top of my head:

  • No or underwhelming 720p/VGA camera pair
  • 8GB, no other size options
  • GSM/CDMA 3G, no LTE, still a premium add on
  • Not Retina XGA, maybe not even IPS
  • Dare I suggest, a single core A4

And those are the pissing contest consumer oriented features (the ones competitors will exceed and thus claim to be better). Here’s what they might do under the hood. (I’m basing these on the iPod Touch 4 vs iPad 2 and iPhone 4)

  • iPad 2 SOC at best (2x1GHz, 512MB RAM)
  • iPad 1 SOC possible (1GHz, 256MB or 512MB RAM)
  • no 5GHz N WiFi (just 2.4GHz N)
  • no video mirroring if no A5/A5X
  • Max 720p external resolution if no A5/A5X

If we assume we get iPod Touch 4 specs (but maybe an IPS screen PLEASE) we already have a list of apps that won’t work, such as Photoshop Touch and iMovie. But that might be Apple’s method of preventing cannibalization. Introduce it as an auxiliary device like the MacBook Air so people on a budget will instead get the new cheaper iPad 2X (the 8GB budget version).

As a developer, I have no problem supporting iPad 1 specs. I know how to “progressively enhance” features based on hardware/OS version. The only reason supporting iOS 3.1.3 and first generation devices is so difficult is because Apple makes you dive into the uglier areas of Xcode to do it (projects default to requiring iOS 4 and armv7). As far as I’m concerned, the more devices means more potential users.