Reports out of Taiwan indicate that Apple could be looking to manufacture a 7-inch iPad in the near future. The United Daily News believes that Samsung and AU Optronics have sent 7.85-inch screen samples to Apple for consideration in future products, likely an "iPad mini."
Rumors of a smaller iPad have been circulating since the original was released and are gaining momentum once again. Former CEO Steve Jobs said in an earnings call a year ago that Apple won't make a 7-inch tablet because the screen is too small to express the software. Jobs believed that developers wouldn't be happy writing app code to accommodate varying screen sizes in the same product line.
But now that new CEO Tim Cook is running the show, things could very well change. A smaller iPad would be even more portable than current models and would cost significantly less, allowing Apple to gain market share at a lower price point. An iPad mini could offer serious competition to Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire which will be released on November 15.
Apple is widely expected to unveil the iPad 3 sometime in early 2012 based on the familiar 9.7-inch display. Although there haven't been too many rumors on the new tablet yet, most expect it to include a Retina display which would put the effective resolution at 2044 x 1536. In August it was believed that trial production would start in October with Apple hoping to produce some 1.5 million iPad 3 tablets by the end of the year.