Honey I Shrunk The iPad

For the past few months I’ve referred to my iPod touch as an “iPad Nano”. Sure, it’s not exactly the pinnacle of human wit, but it keeps me gently amused. Now it appears Apple wants to spoil that fun.

There are now reports that Apple is planning a smaller version of the iPad for an early 2011 release. Just as the iPad fills a gap (be it real or marketing imagination) between the MacBook and the iPhone/iPod, it appears Apple now wants to plug an even smaller gap.

The reports are that the new device will be between 5 and 7 inches diagonally, costing less than $400, and be aimed at users who will mainly be reading content and not typing very much.

The source of the reports is DigiTimes, a Taipei-based site and daily newspaper which specializes in the Asian electrical manufacturing market. It quotes “upstream component sources”, which probably means somebody at a screen-manufacturer has had an enquiry from Apple.

How sensible this idea is depends how you look at it. If you think of it in terms of the iPad compared to the iPhone, it seems to combine the worst of both worlds: you lose the attractive screen size of the iPad but don’t get the easy portability of the iPhone.

However, if you think of it as primarily a rival to the Amazon Kindle, then it looks like a more attractive prospect. While the market for e-Readers is still open to question, you’re effectively taking everything the standard Kindle has to offer and, for a $100 or so extra, throwing in a color screen, full web access, and a media player!

To compete with that, Amazon would either have to add extra features (which are unlikely to match the usability of those offered by Apple) or, more likely, slash the Kindle’s price. At the least, it would probably have to fall below the supposed psychological $199 barrier for mainstream adoption of entertainment devices.

Still, one thing puzzles me about these proposals. With the supposed technical genius of Apple, surely it can’t be long before they just make one portable product with an added sensor on the back that lets you shrink or enlarge the entire device with a pinch gesture?

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