Update: MacRumors has also confirmed our story, that “Apple pushing its manufacturing partners to meet deadlines that would allow the company to launch the iPad on Steve Jobs’ birthday, February 24th.”
Before stepping down as Apple CEO, Steve Jobs and Jonathan Ive, Senior Vice President of Industrial Design at Apple, focused on the form and function of an 7-inch tablet. According to our sources, the device was dubbed the “iPad Mini,” and it is expected to be released in early 2012.
While Jobs was dismissive of the iPad Lite concept, calling them “scaled-up smartphones” in Apple’s earnings conference call a year ago, Apple is readying the new device to go head-to-head with Kindle Fire, Amazon’s $200 color 7-inch slate.
However, Jobs was not pleased with the experience of the iPad Mini and thought it diluted Apple’s product-line, said our insider. Positioned between the iPod Touch and the iPad 2, the iPad Mini does complicate Apple’s simple lineup. Apple’s management team, in their first move of establishing independence, decided to proceed with the smaller iPad.
With the Kindle Fire priced at $199, a mini version of the iPad could fill a market gap for people still uncomfortable with the iPad’s $499 price-tag. The Kindle Fire was afire on Black Friday, where it was the bestselling tablet at Target and Best Buy stores. By producing a less expensive, smaller and more portable tablet, Apple will certainly maintain market dominance.
Additionally, Taiwanese Economic Daily News has reported that Korean LG Display and Taiwanese AU Optronics, two potential suppliers, have recently sent samples of their iPad Mini displays to Apple. Their sources state that Apple has already set the specifications for the smaller tablet, which is scheduled to ship Q1 2012, with the iPad 3 shipping in Q3, which is said to carry a Retina display with 2048×1536 resolution.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.