Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Smaller new iPad out next week?

McLEAN, Va. – Oct. 16, 2012 – There’s another new iPad in the works, and it’s expected to be unveiled by Apple next week.

The iPad Mini, as analysts refer to it, will have a smaller screen, similar to competing tablets from Samsung and Amazon – and a lower price.

The tablet will sell for $299, have a screen between 7 and 8 inches (down from 9.8 inches for the full-size iPad) and be available in a Wi-Fi-only version, predicts Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray. Other iPads have both Wi-Fi and cellular service plans available.

Apple declined to comment.

A new, smaller iPad would come at a time when many companies are dramatically increasing their portfolio of smaller tablets – and finding success with buyers. Amazon just unleashed several new Kindle tablets, including a beefed up $199 Kindle Fire; Google and Samsung have the $199 Nexus 7. Both have 7-inch screens.

Microsoft, however, is taking a different path. It will launch its answer to the iPad, the Surface tablet, at a splashy event in New York on Oct. 26. No price has been announced for the Surface, which has a larger screen.

By not having a 7-inch model, “Apple is ceding 20 percent of the market to competitors,” says Munster.

Apple in the past has insisted that consumers prefer the large screen of its iPad. But now, says Munster, “There are some people who just naturally prefer having a smaller tablet,” and Apple can satisfy them.

Munster projects that Apple will sell 5 million to 10 million of the smaller iPads by the end of the year, depending on whether it can meet the expected demand. “If things go smoothly, it’s 10 million. If things don’t go well, it’s 5 million,” he says.

The new iPhone 5, which burst out of the gate three weeks ago with sales of 5 million phones, has been plagued by supply issues. Apple could sell way more phones if it had them, Munster says.

Apple introduced a new iPad in March. That successor to the iPad 2 sports a brighter, sharper screen and an improved video camera.

Nearly 75 million iPads have been sold since the tablet was introduced in 2010.

© Copyright 2012 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc., Jefferson Graham.

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