Tablet talk intensifies: Apple and RIM planning new devices

7.85-inch iPad mini concept by John Anastasiadis of iMore

iPad Mini

Steve Jobs rubbished the idea of smaller tablets back in 2010, calling them “dead on arrival”. Too small for a decent user experience, he said.

But in recent months, the chatter surrounding the possibility of Apple releasing an iPad Mini has increased markedly, with many observers now believing it a real possibility. Amazon and Google will not be pleased.

The latest report pointing toward the launch of a smaller version of the massively popular iPad comes from Bloomberg. It said on Tuesday that according to “two people with knowledge of the plans,” the device will have a display of between seven and eight inches, a little smaller than the iPad’s current 9.7-inch screen. However, the tablet won’t have Apple’s Retina display, but instead go with the pre-new-iPad resolution of 1024×768 pixels. According to Bloomberg’s source, Apple may unveil the device in October.

Since Apple launched the iPad in 2010, no other maker has been able to come close in terms of sales figures. If the company prices the iPad Mini competitively (OK, if they launch one), it’ll cause a real headache – no, worse, a head-thumping skull-bashing migraine – for Amazon and Google. Their 7-inch Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 devices, both priced at $199, are positioned at the low end of the tablet market – precisely where the rumored iPad Mini is heading. Apple’s current 9.7-inch iPad costs between $499 and $829, depending upon its memory capacity and wireless capabilities. What would you think for an iPad Mini – around $249?

Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee & Leach, underlined the trouble it could cause other tablet makers, telling Bloomberg that any such creation by the Cupertino company would be “the competitors’ worst nightmare.”

And if anyone had any doubt about whether there’d be a market for a smaller iPad, cast your mind back to May where a survey of over 2,500 online shoppers in the US found that 52 percent said they’d be interested in a 7-inch iPad priced at $250.

Blackforest

No, RIM isn’t about to branch out into selling rich, heavy cakes in order to save the company from meltdown (though it might be worth a try) – it’s actually the name (or at least, the codename) of a new tablet it’s expected to release in the third quarter of 2013.

The BlackBerryOS fan site claims to have come into possession of what it believes is a BlackBerry 10 roadmap for next year, part of which shows the scheduling of the Blackforest tablet.

tablet talk intensifies apple and rim planning new devices blackforestThe device is thought to have a 10-inch screen, but little more is known at the current time. However, the image of the tablet on the roadmap has “128” printed beneath it, with BlackBerryOS suggesting it could indicate it’ll be equipped with a whopping 128GB of memory.

But with the poor sales of its smaller PlayBook tablet, many will wonder at the wisdom of bringing out a larger tablet which will find itself competing with Apple’s iPad as well as Microsoft’s forthcoming Surface offerings.

RIM’s problems have been well documented in recent months, the most recent disappointment being the delay of its next-generation BlackBerry 10 OS until next year. But it’s the success of these BlackBerry 10 devices, which will include several handsets, that will determine if RIM sinks or swims.

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