A smaller iPad on the way?

Some say “yes”, others vehemently shout “never”!

After El Jobs lambasted the very idea of a 7″ tablet on a call a few months back, the concept of an iPad-mini or anything like that has been the stuff of dreams. Recently though, the rumour mill has started to turn again, sending forth whispers of a smaller iPad model. (A smaller iPhone is being touted, but that’s for another post).

What?! Why would anyone want a smaller iPad?

I’ve had an iPad since the get-go (at least as soon as it was available in the UK – even I couldn’t justify return flights to NYC to pick one up early) and have fallen in love with it. It’s never further than a few inches from me at any time and is used for work just as much as for leisure. It’s the first (public) iteration, so there are some obvious improvements to be made. It could definitely be lighter and could benefit from an SD card slot. But overall, I think it’s a wonderful device.

That said, a month ago, I picked up a Samsung Galaxy tablet and was wowed by the form factor. The finish was plasticky and felt cheap, while the interface resembled a school project when compared to iOS. That aside, it felt good in the hand. Goldilocks dimensions – just right.

But hadn’t Steve Jobs said that 7″ tablets were unusable? That I’d have to saw down my own fingers to use it? I don’t know, I wasn’t there. But I do know that a 7″ tablet is entirely usable and that if Apple brought out a 6″ or 7″ tablet device, I’d snap one up in an instant.

Why?

Well, one of the other drawbacks to the iPad is its size. It’s fantastic for working on, for watching movies and browsing the web. But this also makes it slightly bulky to cart around. Just slightly. Luckily, I’m never without a man-bag (murse?) but it would be nice to have a table that would fit inside a jacket pocket. I’m thinking an old-school PDA on Apple steroids, using the iOS and all of its amazing apps. Wifi, to access email and internet on the go and sync with various cloud services.

But rather than being billed as a media tablet, Apple would offer it as the successor to the Newton. Add in some near field communications technology and you’ve got an electronic wallet too. Take a leaf out of Blackberry’s book and get it to play nice with the iPhone in terms of networking and data-sharing and you have a viable alternative to the Playbook.

And they can easily side-step Jobs’ pronouncement on 7″ tablets by denying it’s an iPad. It could be a new addition to the iPod range. 9to5Mac has a nice mock-up of what this would look like.

Honestly? I’m not that bothered about what they call it. I’d just like them to launch it.

In the interim, I’ll file this post neatly under “pipe dreams”.

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