Friday, October 21, 2011

Retweet: Don't expect a smaller iPad any time soon

Writing for Wired, Christina Bonnington yesterday wrote about the swirling rumors that Apple might release a smaller version of its iPad. The rumors are "swirling" because one bad rumor inevitably will be picked up by other sites as link bait. (I really should start doing that here. Just kidding).

Bonnington gets a group of people to dismiss the rumor including Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps who says "We expect Apple to maintain its premium price point on tablets ... Apple will not allow Amazon to dictate the terms of competition — Apple makes its own rules."

But the best reason not to expect a smaller form factor is contained in a quote from Ross Rubin, an analyst with NPD: "The company is enjoying strong sales with the iPad, and it could be difficult for developers to make their iPad-optimized apps look at home."

One can debate the merits of smaller tablets (and larger smartphones) all you want, but Apple is the one company that truly seems to understand that the success of its platform is based on the support it gets from the developer community – hence the rebirth of the Tech Talk World Tour. Nothing I've seen so far tells me that Apple is preparing its developers for smaller displays.

Latest Apple rumor is that the company will begin making iPads in odd, variable, fun shapes. Developers cry foul.

One reason a smaller display doesn't make much sense to me is that the other tablets sporting a 7-inch display are more rectangular in shape, better for viewing video. The iPad is squarer, which makes it not quite perfect for many applications, but workable for everything. If Apple were to go smaller it would most likely stay fairly square in order to help developers port their apps over to the new form factor.

But the biggest reason to dismiss these rumors is simply that currently Apple has something everyone else wants: a simple, two-tiered, consistent platform. Adding a third form factor wouldn't make things impossible for Apple, but it would certainly make their iOS more Android-like – fragmented.

By the way, I recommend reading the comments to Bonnington's story. They could easily be attached to a political story in the WaPo – two sides talking past each other.