Sample screens for a seven-inch Apple iPad have been delivered for testing, according to Taiwanese manufacturing bible Digitimes. That means that production lines could start knocking out baby fondleslabs as early as June.
Citing unnamed "industry sources", as it usually does, Digitimes states that the 7.85-inch iPad will be cheaper too: between $249 and $299 (£188) compared to the $499 price tag on the Wi-Fi 16GB iPad 2 model.
Going for the 7-inch form factor and a lower price will enable the budget tablet to compete directly against the Kindle, which is raking in significant sales in the lower price bracket. Rumours of a smaller iPad have been swirling for a while.
Indeed The Register predicted this move after the arrival of the first iPad. Sadly, we didn't patent the idea.
Apple co-founder and ex-CEO Steve Jobs dismissed the concept of a smaller iPad a couple of years ago. But then he often vehemently dismissed ideas before taking them up, and now he's obviously unable to make executive decisions having lost his battle with cancer.
One of Jobs' primary objections to different form factors was that it would fragment the iOS experience by causing apps to resize in a messy non-optimal way. However, a 7.85-inch iPad will get round this problem by having the same 1024 x 768 resolution of the iPad 2, meaning that no changes need to be made to apps to accommodate the smaller screen. ®