updated 08:27 pm EDT, Wed July 4, 2012
Suggested screen supplies from LG Display, Sharp or AU Optronics
More fire is being added to the rumors of a 7-inch (or 8-inch, depending on the source) "mini" iPad. Both the Wall Street Journal (subscription required) and Bloomberg claim to have anonymous sources with "knowledge of the plans" that confirm a screen between seven and eight inches in diameter, and the component suppliers in Asia are preparing for a mass production of the device in September. The source of the screens, however, differ from more recent murmurs.
The WSJ mentions that the screen suppliers will be LG Display and AU Optronics. A rumor that surfaced yesterday suggested Sharp would be supplying IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) displays measuring 7.85 inches, which would give a better image on a thinner screen, and a potential pixel density of 330 ppi.
The claimed timing of manufacture seems to match previously published rumors, although there is no change to that of its suggested price. Current estimates are for between $250 and $300, despite the challenges from other tablets, with both the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire both selling for $200.
Claims of Apple making a 7-inch version of the iPad have been around since the arrival of the original iPad in 2010. Asian racing and pop star Jimmy Lin was pictured holding a supposed 7-inch tablet running iOS just six months after the original model debuted.
There has also been some speculation that the new device, if actually produced, may not carry the iPad brand name in order to avoid Apple catching flack for contravening its late co-founder Steve Jobs' assertions that 7-inch devices are "tweeners -- too big to compete with a smartphone, and too small to compete with the iPad." Jobs also said on separate occasions that 7-inch devices offer too many compromises and are too small for fingers to use as easily as the larger screen, calling them "dead on arrival. That prediction thus far has been borne out -- no 7-inch tablet other than Amazon's very short-lived success with the Kindle Fire has done well in the market.
Making a smaller device with a more targeted purpose -- a dedicated iTunes Store companion, for example, or a stripped-down tablet aimed directly at youngsters or students -- might get around Apple's stated dislike of the smaller form factor. Apple, as expected, declined to comment.