7-inch iPad on track for October 2012 release, $200 to $250 price

Apple will be going forward with the 7-inch iPad, currently targeting an October 2012 release alongside the new iPhone, and -- here's the killer -- at a $200 to $250 price point. According to our sources, the reason for such aggressive pricing is to do to the tablet market what Apple did to the MP3 market in 2004 with the expansion of the iPod product line -- leave absolutely no space for competitors.

We haven't gotten a firm read on the exact screen dimensions, so we're using 7-inches generically here. Our sources have indicated, however, that the 7-inch iPad will be identical to the current 9.7-inch iPad, just scaled down. While that might raise hopes for a 2048x1536 resolution Retina display, just like the new iPad, it's more likely Apple would stick with the same 1024x736 display currently found on the iPad 2. If that's the case, Retina display would make an appearance in a future version of the product.

One way Apple will be keeping costs lower is by providing less storage capacity. $200 to $250 will get you 8GB. By way of comparison, the current entry-level iPod touch also starts at $200 for 8GB. (And no, Apple won't be replacing the iPod touch with the 7-inch iPad, both devices will remain in the product lineup -- though it'll be interesting to see what happens with iPod touch pricing and storage capacity.)

While Apple's late co-founder, Steve Jobs, was famously dismissive of 7-inch tablets, calling them terrible and dead-on-arrival, he also said no one wanted to watch video on an iPod and that Apple wasn't interested in making a phone. One of Jobs' chief criticism of the 7-inch form factor was its impact on software -- that competitors stretched out smartphone apps instead of making iPad-class apps. Obviously, Apple's 7-inch iPad would run the same apps as the current 9.7 inch app, though scaled down. While that will affect design elements like touch targets, and may cause some developers to approach iPad apps in different ways, it's better than introducing a 3rd interface size to the mix (in addition to iPhone/iPod touch and 9.7-inch iPad).

Apple previously addressed the lower price point by keeping the 2011 iPad 2 around at $399 following the launch of the new iPad.

Rumors of a 7-inch iPad mini have been around since just after the launch of the original iPad in 2010, and picked up speed when competitors like Samsung, RIM, and Amazon began offering 7-inch tablets. Some, like the Kindle Fire, are already at the $200 price point, using cheap to compete with good. While Amazon won't talk sales numbers, and none of these devices can really be called successful at this point, to a certain segment of the market, cheap is what matters. Apple hasn't chosen to address that segment in desktop or laptop computers, or in phones, but they have in MP3 players and it sounds like they will again in tablets. And they'll do it in the same way -- by being cheap and good. For large scale markets like education, a 7-inch, $200 to $250 iPad would be compelling.

Steve Jobs' tag line for the original iPad was "...our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price".

Sound like Apple is getting ready to be even more unbelievable.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect more recent information, namely that Apple will likely start with a standard display and move to Retina display in the future version of the product.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

111 Comments
  • My sources just said "absolutely not" to this headline, maybe you are getting confused with the iPod touch redesign?
  • Lots of people gave imore crap for a previous rumor(forget if it was new iPad or 4S) and they were correct so I believe them! If apple wants iPads in schools and to destroy the completion even more, a cheaper(in price) 7in retina iPad would leave all tablets even further in the dust. I bet it would be as popular as the iPod nano which became the most popular iPod (before the touch came out) I can see parents buying these for their kids for school easily
  • Both. We got pretty close to nailing the dates and details of both the iPhone 4S and the iPad 3 (the new iPad). Part of what makes this so stressful -- we take it really seriously.
  • Rene, if your sources are right about the iPad mini, I wonder if the rumored price of $200-$250 might have been "leaked" to put a damper on sales of Kindles, Nooks, and so on. Because with a true Retina display, I think the price would have to be $249 or $299.
  • What I mean is that I can't believe $200 is really under consideration. It's just out there for effect.
  • Who said anything about Retina? 1024x768 would look just fine on a 7" screen, it looks awesome on the Playbook... not sure they could produce Retina this small at a price that big (because they still need to scale to 1024x768 / 2048x1536).
    Either way, a price point that low would make this an iPad-killer. Nobody would buy the 10" anymore because 7" (or 7.85") is a WAY better form factor. They'd cannibalize sales, something to be careful of. The iPad makes you buy something else. The iPad-mini makes you decide NOT to buy that iPad and buy something else at a lower price point. Not good business. Convergence is bad when trying to move product.
  • I would still far -- FAR -- prefer the 9.7 inch iPad to any 7 inch iPad. 7-inch is a compromise. I already have an iPhone for that. 9.7 lets me get closer to approximating the actual work I can get done on a laptop.
    Same reason I never bought a 7-inch netbook :)
  • There is seriously NO way that it will sell for $200. iPod Touch costs more than that. Nice rumor though.
  • "Part of what makes this so stressful..."
    WTF? What is "stressful" about what you do? You write for a web site. You write about rumors. I'm sorry but, where's the "stress"?
  • I take this stuff seriously. I consider our readers' attention to be valuable. If I didn't stress over it, I probably shouldn't be doing it.
  • Don't stress over it Rene.
    This should be a labor of love for you. Sure, there are deadlines and confirming sources and what not, but you should be ENJOYING doing this, not stressing over it, because if you let it be a stressful endeavor, one day you will find yourself having to abandon it due to health concerns. You are providing valuable information to readers who appreciate the work you do. Don't let it give you a heart attack. That's what the day job rat race is for and this shouldn't be that, for you.
  • I think you will probably end up eating your hat on this one Rene :-)
    I'm not saying the 7" ipad won't happen, but it will never happen at that price point in my opinion.
  • Yeah, I use my 10" for watching movies on planes and stuff instead of my 13" MacBook, so I wouldn't want to go any smaller. 10" is small enough for what I use it for and like Rene said, if it's too big to take somewhere I still have my iPhone.
  • 7.85 inch iPad is definitely coming this year, it is already in Apple supply chain in China.
    I am surprise that this is still a rumor over in US; no secret can be kept when you make things in China.
  • Are these freakin authors stupid or just ignorant? I mean good night...
  • Neither, but both seem to apply to you.
  • I think this could be the ipod 5 but bigger
  • ^^^THIS. iPOD Touch redesing...
  • If I can get my kindle loving mom a $200 iPad that would be amazing! She does like that she can take her kindle "anywhere" and still have a network connection. For free. Hmmmm
  • Except that Apple will surely stick with the idiotic glossy screen, instead of being the "leader" that it claims to be and shunning a fad that started with third-tier crap being sold at Best Buy.
  • I still think they should just make the screen on the iPod touch and iPhone bigger instead of making a smaller iPad. 4-4.3 inches. But many more people would buy iPads at $250.
  • And how would they do that, when the screen is already the entire face of the phone? Make it fold out somehow?
  • uhhh...you make a larger screen??
    hello, troll
  • I think this is exactly what the rumors are based on. There is not going to be a 7" iPad. The rumors extend from information that there will actually be an iPhone with a bigger screen, starting at $200 (with contract). Rumors like this always stem from some small truth, but are generally misguided. This cycle has happened before every recent Apple launch. Recap: larger iPhone screen, $200 price point, and they will call it the iPhone (no iPhone 5). Rene can hire me as a writer if I'm right.
  • Apple sort of did address the cheap market in phones by offering previous model iPhone for $100 less than the new version, and even offering the 3Gs for free, with contract.
  • Re: ..."do to the tablet market what Apple did to the MP3 market in 2004 with the expansion of the iPod product line"...
    I completely understand this concept. In fact, I've been expecting Apple do do this since the original iPad was announced. Different sized iPads at different price points. (But no iPad shuffle, please.)
    But, Rene, if there isn't a 7 to 8 inch iPad in October, be ready for a heavy (virtual) smack down. I won't hold anything back. I know that iMore needs to at least report on actual rumor sites' posts, but I'm hoping iMore doesn't descend too far into rumor-mongering.
  • I hear you. We're very careful about this stuff, and so far I think we've done a good job (iPhone 4S, iPad 3). This is 100% the most stressful part of my job and I don't take it lightly.
    My guess (personal opinion) is that Apple doesn't intend to take next-generation Android or Amazon 7-inch tablet competition lightly, and will scorch the earth with this iPad before anyone else gets any traction.
  • Looks like they have learned their lessons from Iphone. Even though they are selling quite a bit, they lost market share to Android. And now, Samsung is giving good competition and it's becoming difficult to stop them. It's good to see if Apple use this trick and offer competitive price before Andorid/Windows 8 gets their foot strong in tablet market. This is why I think being fan is fine but being blind believer is wrong. Company should always offer choices and better prices and blind believer will enable company to keep prices jacked up be it Apple, Google, Microsoft or Samsung.
  • Agree. Great job so far, and hey, if your sources are reliable it's cool. Especially if they're exclusive.
  • It was obvious to me a while back a 7" ipad was coming later. The only surprising tidbit is the retina screen.
    I'd love to see it. It's a buy for the kiddo. I wonder if it'd come in 4G flavors?
  • If this product does come out, it'll be crippled with ridiculously small memory capacity and probably no GPS. And that latter omission will be particularly stupid, since a smaller tablet is an even better option for mobile use.
    Then again, with no memory to speak of, you won't be able to hold much in the way of maps. So in the end, this product will be even more of a nearly useless gimmick than the larger iPad. And people will lap it up, and "the press" will fawn over it without a bit of real critical analysis.
  • and you will continue to troll on apple blogs
  • And you will continue with your jerk wad takes, Whathave you. Next time have a point. No room here for tools or trolls.
  • Hello,
    I am just the average user and have been holding off buying a Kindle Fire in the hopes that Apple will bring out an affordable Ipad mini! I have heard the rumors for several months and have been waiting!. the Ipad is too big, and the Ipod touch is too small. I want to be able to toss it in my bag and go! So, I am definitely sure that there will be a market. I have the original Nook and have been holding out for an Ipad of equal size! I hope Rene, you are right and am hopefully waiting!
  • Looks like they are playbook wannabes =P
  • If that were the case Apple would produce it with no native email or calendar.
    Oops, that is the logic and smarts of those clowns at RIM.
    The word is tens and tens of Playbooks have been sold.......yes, the iPad killer.
  • @Dixie Normis even without the native email and calendar, the playbook OS was and still is better than iOS...
    Now the playbook has everything native its even better.
    Word is even though the media is completely biased and hated on the PlayBook like crazy RIM was still able to sell over a million of them.
    The Playbook doesn't have to be an iPad killer, many people will still like it even if they aren't part of the millions of iPad owners...
    There are vastly less ferarris then there are Hondas and fords....ferrari is still better car, just not for everyone, especially the common people.
  • I hope this is true and the price is at $200, it would sell better than their current ipad and really take the tablet market over once more
  • The price point of this would eat to much into Apples profits to make it worthwhile.
    At 200-250 they would be making no profit, just like everyone else is making no profit at that price point.
    For arguments sake please endulge me in the following scenario, the numbers I make up are just for illustration and not based on an reality: In a world where no 7 inch tablets exist, Apple will sell 1 billion 10 inch ipads In a world where 7 inch tablets exist, Apple will sell 800 million 10 inch tablets thus, because of Android, Touchpads and Playbooks, Apple lost 200 million 10 inch iPad sales because those people wanted a 7 inch tablet instead of a 10 inch, and went with one of the offerings.
    There are also many consumers who want a 7 inch tablet, but, only want Apple offerings, thus, they buy the 10 inch model, lets say there are another 200 million of these people.
    If Apple makes a 7 inch tablet that makes no profit, sure, they will retain those 200 million people who bought the Android/Touchpad/Playbook, but, they will also lose another 200 million people who want ONLY an Apple 7 inch
    Net loss of 200 million sales that make a profit
    So to summarize, if Apple makes no profit on a 7 inch tablet, there is no point of them releasing it. It will only reduce their profits.
  • You can rest assured that if they put a 7 inch tablet on the market, they've done the math and have figured out a way to make it profitable, this isn't their first day on the job.
    Either that or they decided to take the losses for the purpose of driving out the competition. Of course you have to be careful selling products at a loss in the US, you can run into anti-trust issues.
  • Please let us know the last time Apple sold anything for a loss in the past decade?
    GUARANTEED - they have the numbers worked out. It will have removable memory and/or iCloud required. I suspect there will be some level of cloud connection required.
  • In addition to that, it will most likely be a model tha ONLY features 3G/4G connectivity (with WiFi). To get the lower price point, you MUST sign up with a two year contract data plan.
    $199 iPad Mini with data package will fly off the shelves.
  • How could Apple make any money with that price point? If they were losing money to drive competitors out of business, it could open them to a predatory pricing investigation.
  • Apple has huge markups in their prices, which is how they built that $100 Billion mountain of cash. They could drop prices quite a bit if they are interested in goals that allow for lower profitability.
  • Sorry.. It's just never gonna happen. Apple I'm sure has tons of prototypes, but those won't see the light of day. Face it, Apple isn't going to put out a crap device or something it isn't comfortable with and that is a small iPad. They sale a done of the 10"er's, they don't need another product to have people chose between.
  • I agree.
    Moreover, a 7" iPad is not significantly cheaper to build than a 10" one, and Apple don't do cheap, it's just not part of their strategy.
  • This fall is going to be very fun. I look forward to the fireworks from an iPad Mini, Win8 tabs, and Android tabs.
    I believe Rene and iMore's sources, there is actually thought and reason and just a huge headline with wild speculation. Nice job guys.
  • I agree. This seems waaayyyyy too good to be true. The kindle, nook tablet, Samsung 7inch galaxy whatever are barely cutting into apple's territory. No one knows them and no one wants to know them. People who buy them wind up wishing they just saved up a little more for the iPad. The only sales the 7 inch iPad would cut into would be the current iPads. Apple would just be competing with themselves. I'm sure apple is toying with the idea but in the end I doubt they pull the trigger on this.
  • No one knows or wants to know the kindle or nook? What cave are you in? Kindle does quite well for amazon. Is the kindle an ipad killer? Of course not, but then again even the fire doesnt try to be. But monochrome kindles roast the ipad when it comes to ereading.
  • You're missing the point...
  • This would make my life. I would buy a 7 inch iPad in a heartbeat especially at the $250 price point.
  • I hope this happens. this will become the interface for my carputer. I just don't have room to elegantly incorporate my 10 inch iPad.
    I hope it comes with GPS.
  • Here's my take:
    Apple will release a 7" device.
    It will be a 7" iPod Touch. (This will not replace the current touch, just be an addition to the iPod line-up)
    The 7" iPod touch will run iPhone and iPod Touch apps, but NOT iPad apps. (Much like the iPhone and iPod Touch don't run iPad apps now).
    The 7" device, much like the current iPod Touch, will have a marketing focus on gaming and music.
    Just my $0.02US
  • I don't think you're too far off in you opinion. I'm a little skeptical with the screen being 2048x1536 though. If they took the resolution of the iPhone display and doubled it (1920x1280), I can definitely see that.
  • Come on!!!
    iPhone 4´ - iPod Touch 7´- iPad 10´
    Clear water!!!
  • I post this everytime this rumour pops up.
    I WANT ONE REALLY BADLY.
    I still have the original iPad and the only problem I ever have with it is that it is big and heavy when it's in my purse with all my other stuff. A small one would be far more comfortable to read with on the go and I'd be tempted to wait in line to get one right away. The smaller price tag doesn't hurt either!
    Please please please let it be real this time.
  • Sorry Samsung, looks like your 7" Galaxy isn't for me after all. Dear Santa...
  • Also, thank you, iMore for your careful reporting. Keep up the great work.
  • I vote for ipod larger screen consistent with large iphone screen. Jobs made it clear he thought smaller was not better and all the products launched now are part of his road map.
  • Love my Kindle Fire! It is a wonderful device for the money. It does all I would do on an ipad but saved me at least $350.
  • It will be interesting to see if Apple does, in fact, release a 7 to 8 inch iPad. And whether or not they decide to release a larger iPad, maybe up to 13". We're guessing the smaller iPad is more likely.
    We don't see any technical issues with the smaller iPad. It could continue to use the original iPad's 1024x768 pixel geometry, and presumably support all existing non-Retina apps with no changes. All at a lower price. And there may or may not be minor changes to iOS to allow for increasing the actual tap target sizes without increasing the size of the associated graphics. (Some tap targets are already larger than the actual visible buttons.)
    But a larger iPad might be problematic. Apple probably wouldn't increase the pixel count for a 13-inch-ish iPad, so Apple might not be able to claim "Retina" resolution. And it might be more tiring to move up to 30% more across the larger screen over extended use periods. Not to mention the possible added weight, less-portable size, potential cannibalization of MacBook Air, and higher retail pricing.
  • Good point about a 13 inch iPad being a bit large for moving your fingers over.
    I'd like to see an 11.6" iPad.
  • Why NOT cannibalize the MacBook Air? The device was introduced as a really portable laptop in a time where Netbooks were poised to dominate. The iPad, however, is a better product for that, and taught us that the future of computing is slates, not clamshells.
    With the coming versatile Windows 8 tablets that will be dockable, run Metro apps, and run Windows Desktop, Apple needs an answer to the slate that can be used on a desktop. By adding 0.75" in width (the right bezel) and just over 2" in length, a 13" iPad could replace the MacBook Air. If it can be docked or sent to a large monitor, then the problem is solved.
    If the iPhone will really go to being more of a 16:10 geometry, then the iOS world of apps is going to have a fragmentation issue on their hands. Likely Apple would need the iPad to follow suit and go to a 16:10 shape.
    Regardless, the future of consumer computers is tablets, not clamshells, and it would behoove Apple to pare down to just 1 clamshell line, the MacBook Pro.
  • Very doubtful. Apple has never played catch-up as would be the case with a 7 inch mo