The first rumors surfaced months ago, and now a new report adds fuel to the speculation that Apple is planning to release a new tablet with a significantly smaller screen.
With just weeks to go before the supposed March 7 announcement of a new iPad, the Wall Street Journal claims to have a source who confirms that Apple has been testing a new, smaller screen for its line of tablets.
A separate Journal story, meanwhile, suggests that the next iPad will have 4G LTE capabilities.
Citing "people familiar with the situation," the report claims that in addition to testing out smaller tablet screens with Asian suppliers, Apple has actually shown off the overall design of the smaller, 8-inch tablet to a several of its manufacturing parters. Back in December there were reports that Apple had purchased 7.85-inch panels from LG Display and AU Optronics.
The late Steve Jobs is well-known for his statements deriding the notion of a smaller tablet. Has the successful launch of Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire caused Apple to rethink this position?
Recently, there were reports that Amazon would launch an updated version of its 7-inch Kindle Fire, as well as a new 9-inch version of the device that could directly compete with the 9.7-inch iPad. Estimates by analysts put sales of the Kindle Fire at around 6 million, while Amazon itself claimed at point last year to be selling roughly 1 million devices per week.
Compared to Apple's 15.4 million iPads sold worldwide during the last three months of 2011, along with an approximate 60 percent share of the tablet market, it's not like the iPad is in any danger of a rapid drop in popularity any time soon. But Apple prides itself on staying ahead of the curve, so as tablet offerings from Amazon and Samsung slowly gain traction, this could be the next step toward Apple reaching for complete dominance of the tablet space.
As for 4G LTE, the Journal said that AT&T and Verizon will offer versions of the iPad that work on their respective 4G networks. At this point, the iPad, as well as the iPhone, tap into the carriers' 3G networks.
Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.