updated 12:10 pm EDT, Thu October 7, 2010
Extra USB port could open up peripherals
Apple is not only working on a 7-inch iPad, but one that should have a camera, Retina Display and up to 128GB of storage, according to Taiwanese component suppliers contacted by Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities. Present iPads are limited to no more than 64GB of memory. The analyst notes that he was also told the new device should launch in the first quarter of 2011, and sport a "micro or mini" USB port.
The current iPad does support USB peripherals such as keyboards and a proprietary card reader, but only through its iPod-style 30-pin dock connector, which limits people to one add-on at a time. White's claim backs an earlier assertion by analysts at Goldman Sachs; people would, however, still need an adapter to connect most USB hardware. AppleInsider notes that the port may reflect the European Union's establishment of micro USB as a standard mobile charging scheme.
Achieving Retina Display levels of pixel density may almost require going to 7 inches, as they are not standard and potentially expensive past the size of a cellphone. The feature is present on only two Apple devices so far: the iPhone 4, and the fourth-generation iPod touch. Increasing resolution may compensate for a reduction in screen size.
White doesn't specify whether a 7-inch iPad will replace the 9.7-inch model or complement it. He is however said to have learned that Apple could sell as many as 45 million iPads in 2011, more than double the current Ticonderoga forecast. Over 6 million iPad components -- one per tablet -- are said to have been shipped by one supplier in Q3 2010 alone. Another 7 million are expected for the holiday season.
"These numbers are well above our iPad forecasts of 3.8 million in the September quarter and 5.37 million in the December quarter," says White. "Essentially, this equates to 13 million units for the second-half of 2010 versus our forecast of 9.17 million units."