With the world now expecting a new iPad in March, possibly March 7, surprise speculation today suggested that Apple was working with component suppliers in Asia to test a new tablet with a smaller screen.
The Wall Street Journal, quoting the ubiquitous "people familiar with the situation" said it looked as if Apple was out to broaden its product pipeline with intensifying competition from the likes of Samsung and Amazon.
The iPad had more than 61.5% of world-wide tablet shipments in the third quarter - but this was down from 68.3% in the second quarter, said the WSJ, quoting market researcher IDC.
Officials at some of Apple's suppliers, who declined to be named, said Apple had shown them screen designs for a new device with a screen size around 8-inches, and said it was qualifying suppliers for it. Apple's most recent tablet, the iPad 2, launched last yearm has a 9.7-inch screen.
One person told the WSJ the smaller device "will have a similar resolution screen as the iPad 2." The WSJ pointed out that Apple, which works with suppliers to test new designs all the time, could opt not to proceed with the device. Apple declined to comment to the paper.
The new regular iPad, which according to iMore, quoting "previously reliable" sources, will be revealed on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. and have a 2048×1536 Retina display. It will feature a quad-core Apple A6 system-on-a-chip, says iMore and possibly 4G LTE networking.insiders believe will be announced early next month, is expected to have a higher resolution screen than the iPad 2 with a similar screen size.
One version will run on fourth-generation wireless networks from Verizon Wireless and AT&T , said the WSJ .
Samsung's 5.3-inch Galaxy Note and Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire have been selling well. Diana Wu, an analyst at Capital Securities in Taipei told the WSJ, "It means consumers want a tablet that is smaller than the existing 9.7-inch iPad." She also said price would be important, "especially in big emerging markets like China and India."