Rumours surface every day on technical blogs and I prefer to leave them to brew until something concrete comes along. Today, however, it looks like the ubiquitous seven-inch iPad① rumour has legs. The Wall Street Journal reports that the launch is nigh. If it does materialise, I will welcome a smaller version of the iPad and will certainly buy one. I doubt that I shall be alone.
I am now on my third 9.7in iPad and, with its retina display, it is undoubtedly a wonderful beast. As a media consumption device it is unbeatable and it works well as a productivity tool and, even, a passable e-book reader.
My humble opinion, for what it is worth, is that the iPad is a tad too large and heavy to make it a perfect travel companion or e-reader. I still prefer to read books on my iPhone, even when I have the iPad available. As a result, the iPad is an optional rather than a necessary companion.
I have been in Greece for over a week and it is the MacBook Air that filled my carry-on bag, not the iPad and, more to the point, not both devices. I need a Mac if I am to be away for more than a day or two. I certainly need the iPhone but I do not absolutely need the iPad.
I have a Kindle, now a little long in the tooth, but it has been gathering dust on a shelf for over twelve months. While it is the ideal size and heft for reading, it is just another device to carry and does only one thing; and reading books on the iPhone is almost as good. Since I prefer a backlit LCD to a passive e-ink screen, the iPhone is actually better.
Now a seven-inch iPad, with resulting lower weight, would be a different thing altogether. It would have the convenience and heftability of the Kindle but would do all the other things I like to do on the iPad: browse the web, read newspapers, fiddle with OmniFocus, keep my accounts up to date. In other words, an all-round good guy.
A smaller iPad, even without the luscious retina display of its bigger brother, would sell by the million. Of that I am convinced. From Apple’s point of view, the main problem could be cannibalisation of higher-priced iPad sales. In reality, though, if the price is right it would expand Apple’s dominance, trump the opposition and permit a lower price entry point to the world’s best computing eco-system.
①: Although this is likely to be marketed as a “seven-inch” device, the rumours are pretty clear that it will have a 7.8in diagonal screen.