Can Magic Really Fit In Seven Inches?

Yet another Taiwan publication is saying that a 7-inch iPad is coming. This rumor isn't new. In fact, it was one of the first rumored sizes. It echoes the always-unreliable Digitimes and iLounge's latest reports, but is it really possible?

iLounge recently claimed that a "highly reliable source" told them of a 7-inch iPad along with "news" of an antenna-fixed iPhone 4—coming out as early as January 2010. They also mentioned an iPod touch with a smaller screen than the iPhone. Back in early 2010, iLounge's original Apple tablet rumors said that Apple was preparing a 7-inch tablet. At the end, though, they backpedaled, saying that Apple thought a 7-inch screen was too small, and that that Steve Jobs & Co. decided on a 10.7-inch iPad instead.

The iPad's screen size is 9.7 inches.

Likewise, Digitimes has been banging the 7-inch iPad drum for a long time. Unlike the Economic Daily News—which points at an IPS display—Digitimes said the screen is OLED. It's highly unlikely that Apple will use OLED for anything, given the success of their IPS Retina display and that it is impossible to get OLED screens in the massive quantities Apple would need. The Economic Daily News claims this "iPad 2" is coming for the holiday season. Now that would be a Christmas surprise.

Why a smaller iPad?

Proponents of this rumor say that going down to seven inches will probably make the iPad lighter. They also say it will be cheaper to make and that Apple wants to keep control of the market they created by offering more flavors.

But we know that Apple has tried different formats for the iPad before settling on the 9.7 inch form factor. There's nothing wrong with that format. If anything, it's too small for reading things like comic books. But it feels good to handle, and has resulted in more than three million units sold in very little time (when everyone except a few predicted its catastrophic failure).

It doesn't make sense to change the winning formula with a screen that will be too small for comfortable reading, while being just double the size of an iPod. And the market doesn't seem big enough yet to have space for another flavor.

At this point, the only thing that the iPad needs is a higher resolution screen at the same 9.7-inch size. We will probably see this when version 2 is released—probably in a year from now.

Could the rumor be true?

Could the rumor reposted by PC World be true? Who knows. It doesn't seem very reasonable to me and Taiwanese newspapers have a history of posting false tech industry stories about Apple products in order to boost the reputation of component manufacturers. At the same time, the actual providers are extremely strict about secrecy because their contracts with Apple depend on it.

Like with every Apple rumor—especially in the summer—it's better to be highly skeptical until Steve Jobs actually confirms it on stage.