Is Apple Building an iPad Mini Made of iPhone Parts?

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As reports of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) preparations to launch an iPad Mini gathered momentum this week, one commentator recognized for being in the know about the company’s plans added his own argument into the mix. John Gruber of Daring Fireball said that Apple may ensure availability of 7.85-inch displays for the smaller iPad by using the same technology it uses on the iPhone 3GS. Since LCD screens are manufactured in large sheets and are then cut down to the right size, Gruber said Apple will be able to easily produce 7.85-inch displays with a 1,024-by-768-pixel resolution.

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“Displays aren’t manufactured at their finished size; rather, they’re made on big sheets, and then cut to size,” Gruber wrote on Wednesday. “So instead of cutting these sheets into 3.5-inch 480 × 320 displays for the iPhone 3GS, they’ll cut them into 7.85-inch 1024 × 768 displays for the smaller iPad. Same exact display technology, though — display technology that Apple has been producing at scale ever since the original iPhone five years ago.”

Gruber argues that this would allow third-party developers to write for the iPad mini just like they would for the first two generations of the tablet. The commentator was reacting to two different news reports that came out earlier this week and talked about the possibility of Apple this year launching a tablet with a screen sized between 7 and 8 inches.

Bloomberg reported that the smaller iPad was not likely to feature a high-resolution screen like the 9.7-inch Retina display found on the third-generation iPad. However, by maintaining the 1,024 by 768 resolution, Apple will solve the problem of developers having to write new applications. The Wall Street Journal said that the smaller tablet could help Apple maintain its dominance of the tablet market even as rivals race to come out with competing devices. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) recently announced their entry into the market with new tablets, while Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Samsung are being rumored to be readying updates to their existing devices. The iPad held a 62 percent share of the worldwide tablet market last year.

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