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Say It Ain’t So! Rumors Abound Over iPad Mini

Jul 05, 12 Say It Ain’t So! Rumors Abound Over iPad Mini

It’s official: The iPad mini rumors simply refuse to die. I’m not entirely sure why these rumors live on, or why anyone would want an iPad mini, but here we are. You, in front of your computer (or full-sized iPad, the way god intended), and me once again waxing philosophical about electronics on the day of our countries birth. It’s a topsy turvy world we live in.

These rumors last popped up in April, not long after the 3rd generation iPad with Retina Display made its way into our hearts. The loved and loathed John Gruber (Daringfireball.net) took to his one-time great podcast to discuss the possibilities of an iPad mini, or iPad Jr. According to Gruber, Apple had been “noodling” with the size of the iPad, playing with some different sizes.

Ok, so far so good. Of course Apple “noodles.” As much as I, and people like me, would like to believe, Apple doesn’t simply “drop” greatness “off at the pool,” if you catch my drift.

“What I do know is that they have one in the labÖa 7.85 inch iPad that runs at 1024-by-768Ö it’s just like the 9.7-inch iPad shrunk down a little bit. Apps wouldn’t need to be recompiled or redesigned to work optimally on it. It’s just the iPad smaller,” said Gruber.

So Gruber knows a little about the device. Ok, no worries, it could still all be a terrible, terrible dream. After all, no Apple rumor is really true until the Wall Street Journal issues a report.

Well, damn.

The Wall Street Journal, as it turns out, is almost always right with stuff like this, and when they are wrong, it’s usually about small matters, stuff that would have been true, but Apple changed their mind late in the game. For instance, the Wall Street Journal confirmed this February that the new iPad would come in 4G LTE versions, (check) for AT&T and Verizon, (yep) boast a beautiful Retina Display, (right again) and would be powered by a quad-core A6 processor. Well, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad at all, and even then, the quad-core processor is splitting hairs a bit, as it’s a quad-core graphics processor. And it’s called the A5X, not the A6.

No sir, 3 out of 4 ain’t bad at all.

Taking a look at this little scoop, the Wall Street Journal “confirms” a few rumors found on other sites – such as Bloomberg and Unwired View – notably that, yes, the alleged iPad mini will be around 7-inches and, yes, it will be available by the end of the year. The Wall Street Journal piece cites component suppliers and suggests production will start to ramp up come September. Screen makers LG Display and AU Optronics could also lend a hand here, says the WSJ.

So why won’t this rumor die? Even before the Kindle Fire and before the Google Nexus, analysts and journalists were calling for Apple to make a smaller, 7-inch tablet to compete with other, smaller Android tablets, forgetting that Apple doesn’t change their strategy simply to compete with other companies.

It’s also worth pointing out that these same analysts and journalists seem to think more highly of these 7-inch tabs than actual customers do, as it’s likely no 7-inch device has sold any better than Apple’s iPod Touch.

According to some research groups, the Fire sold less than 1 million last quarter, while the iPod Touch sold around 3 million during the same time frame.

The Galaxy Nexus has only just been announced, and no one even mentions the Samsung 7-inchers anymore.

The Google Nexus is supposed to be competing with the Fire, after all. Remember?

So, if Apple isn’t threatened by these small tabs, then why try to break into this market?

Why would Apple go the way of Microsoft, offering 2 different kinds of tabs – one for pro and one for everyone else – and put up hurdles in between the customer’s credit card and Apple’s bank account?

Months ago, I was fine with calling this entire rumor bunk. In fact, I enjoyed it.

But now that the Wall Street Journal has thrown their weight behind it (why did they have to do it just one week after Google’s announcement?) I have to wonder if there’s any shred of truth to these rumors at all.

Try as I might, I cannot deny the billows of smoke from this rumor phoenix and have to wonder if I’ll ever see it finally take flight.

At this point, these rumors have me making ridiculous conjectures, like “Maybe it’s not an iPad these suppliers are talking about. Maybe, just maybe it’s some sort of remote. Yeah! That’s it! A remote for that TV everyone used to talk about all the time before they started talking about the iPad mini again.”

Though it might simply be an issue of semantics, I could see a 7-inch iPod Touch before a 7-inch iPad. Apple doesn’t want anyone to have to decide if they want the “good” iPad or the “cheap” iPad. They just want people to buy the damn iPad already,  and choosing between an iPod Touch XL and an iPad might be a little easier on the customer’s brain.  After all, September is traditionally iPod season – Oh great, there I go again.

I just have to ask…

Why would anyone want such a thing?

Not to be that guy, but didn’t Steve Jobs famously rail against 7-inch tablets (and Android, Google, Flash, and styli?)

I know we’re in the age of Tim Cook, the age of a kinder, gentler Apple – but I just can’t make sense of a 7-inch iPad. So, are Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, John Gruber, and countless others wrong about this rumor? While I’ve been wrong before, I hope this time, it’s their turn to put their collective foot in their collective mouths.

Image Credit: Apple

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