Inquiries to Apple’s overseas manufacturers have revealed what is likely the foundation for a new iPad. The company’s Asian component suppliers are gearing up for the mass production of a tablet computer with a smaller screen than that of the iPad, due in September.
Officials working for these suppliers, who chose to remain anonymous, told the Wall Street Journal that Apple has told them to prepare for mass production of the smaller tablet. Two of the officials said that the tablet’s screen will likely be smaller than eight inches. The first two iPad models feature a 9.7 inch screen. Rumors of a smaller iPad in development had surfaced in February, but nothing was formally announced.
South Korean company LG Display Co. was fingered as one of the screen makers Apple is working with for the new design, along with Taiwan-based AU Optronics Co. Spokespersons from Apple have declined to comment on the rumors.
The release of a smaller, cheaper iPad could be a method to combat new devices that are entering the tablet market at a lower price point. Amazon’s Kindle Fire quickly became the second-most popular tablet available after launching at $199 last holiday season. Google’s recently announced Nexus 7 will launch at the same starting price. Both of those devices feature seven-inch screens. Though the iPad remains the most popular tablet on the market, the lowest priced model starts at $499.