) Asian suppliers have reportedly begun to manufacture a smaller
version of the company's tablet, indicating that a holiday 2012
release is still on the table. According to
The Wall Street Journal
, Apple is building an iPad Mini -- which will feature a
7.85-inch liquid-crystal display -- to stay competitive in the
growing tablet market.
When the company launched the original iPad in 2010, Apple did
not have many competitors. In the months that followed,
), Research In Motion (NASDAQ:
), Motorola, Samsung and other tech giants attempted to compete
by releasing their own tablets. Most of these devices failed due
to high prices and a lack of compelling features.
That changed in 2011 when Amazon (NASDAQ:
) released the Kindle Fire, the first widely successful
seven-inch tablet. In just nine months, the device acquired
22 percent of the tablet market
in the United States. It was frequently cited as the
biggest-selling product on Amazon.com, prompting the company to
four new tablets
Last month, Barnes & Noble (NYSE:
) unveiled two new tablets -- the seven-inch Nook HD and the
nine-inch Nook HD+. Days later, Hewlett-Packard came back to the
market with a
Windows 8 tablet
for business customers.
During the summer, Google (NASDAQ:
) unveiled its first branded tablet, the Nexus 7. While that
device is manufactured by Asus, Microsoft (NASDAQ:
) announced that it would produce and manufacture its own tablet,
These are just some of the new competitors that have appeared
this year. In 2013, there are sure to be more.
Analysts firmly believe that Apple could
maintain a significant lead
by releasing a low-cost version of the iPad Mini. Some reports
suggest that the company will charge as little as $249.
In doing so, however, Apple would inadvertently place the iPad
Mini in between the old and new models of the iPod Touch. Apple
currently sells the last iteration for $199, while the new iPod
Touch starts at $299.
There are rumors that Apple may get around the pricing issue
by releasing an iPad Mini that features a low-resolution display.
This could be somewhat disappointing to consumers who had
expected the device to contain a Retina Display, which is
currently featured in the third-generation iPad, the next-gen
MacBook Pro and all current versions of the iPod Touch.
(c) 2012 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment
advice. All rights reserved.