The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Apple has been testing out a new, smaller-screened tablet than the iPad and iPad 2 that could be released alongside the iPad 3 in March. The new display reportedly measures 8 inches diagonally, down from the 9.7 inch screen of the current iPad range.
If Apple does end up releasing a smaller tablet alongside the iPad it would definitely be an understandable, if surprising move. Understandable because Apple has recently started focusing more on the mid-range and budget ends of the market with the revamped 8GB iPhone 4 and still-available iPhone 3GS. Surprising because in the past Apple has seemed unwilling to consider varying its display sizes across multiple devices.
It’s within the realm of possibility that a smaller 8 inch tablet would represent Apple acknowledging its need to appeal to the lower ends of the market. Rather than just a smaller version of the iPad 3, Apple could be planning a device with trimmed-down hardware across the board. Resolution-wise we’d expect it to keep either the current resolution of 1024×768, with the theoretically more expensive iPad 3 receiving a boost.
Of course this is all nothing more than hearsay and conjecture at the moment. But with the recent trend towards budget tablets, such as the Kindle Fire, it could be the right time for Apple to start offering products to its customers with tighter budgets.