R&D Spotlight: Apple Has This Kindle Substitute

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) wouldn’t want to be left behind just in case good things do come in small packages. And it appears as though the tablet market leader is ready with an answer in case the smaller Samsung and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) tablets start beating it at its own game.

The rumors that Apple has already created an iPad that matches the size of the smaller Galaxy and Kindle Fire gained more credence after in-the-know Apple blogger-expert John Gruber claimed it existed. “What I do know is that they have one in the lab…a 7.85 inch iPad that runs at 1024×768…it’s just like the 9.7” iPad shrunk down a little bit,” Gruber said.

It may not be just a lab toy either. Earlier this year, some Apple suppliers said that the company was hunting around for a supplier for a smaller tablet screen.

One of Steve Jobs’ public concerns about a screen much smaller than the standard iPad’s 9.7 inches was about a quality user touch interface, but AppAdvice believes the smaller screen could achieve that, too. The site calculated the pixel density of a 7.85-inch, 1024×768 display to be 163 points per inch, the same as that of the original iPhone and iPod Touch before Retina display became part of the Apple vocabulary.

“Apps wouldn’t need to be recompiled or redesigned to work optimally on it. It’s just the iPad smaller,” Gruber added.

And if the hot-selling Amazon Kindle Fire is proof, there is a market for the smaller device. The demand for a 5.3-inch Samsung Galaxy Note and Amazon’s 7-inch Kindle mean “consumers want a tablet that is smaller than the existing 9.7-inch iPad,” analyst Diana Wu told Wall Street Journal. “iPad’s features are good enough, but pricing would be an important factor in the mass market, especially in big emerging markets like China and India,” she said.

Apple is known to work on prototypes that never get released, but ready for mass production or not, the idea that it has an answer to competitors’ products will keep the them on their toes.

To contact the reporter on this story: Aabha Rathee at staff.writers@wallstcheatsheet.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Damien Hoffman at editors@wallstcheatsheet.com