Rumors that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may be launching a mini version of the iPad sometime later this year are gaining traction. According to a report in DigiTimes on Thursday, the so-called “iPad Mini” has already been manufactured in Asia, and Apple is currently evaluating its samples. Full production may start in the third quarter of this year.
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The device is reported to have a 7.85-inch display with a lower price than its big brother. The iPad Mini is said to be in the $249 to $299 range. Lower-priced tablet competitors like Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire have been a huge success this last holiday season, and Apple may be trying to protect its flanks by doing something it’s never really done before — undercut its competitors on prices.
However, Apple CEO Tim Cook has been critical of cheaper tablets, saying, “I think people really want to do multiple things with their tablets. We don’t really see these limited function tablets and e-readers being in same category. In terms of competitiveness, the ecosystem for iPad is in a class by itself.”
Cook’s statement doesn’t necessarily mean Apple won’t find its own unique way to make a cheaper tablet. Just look at the Macbook Air, the iPod nano — Apple has done this before. It is still quite possible the iPad Mini may be just the right insurance should the much-hyped iPad 3 fail to inspire the kind of sales figures its predecessors have done.
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