By Sonya Magett, EnStarz | Jul 16, 2012 03:27 PM EDT
Apple is developing a new tablet with a 7.85-inch screen.
The product, which will be smaller and less expensive than the latest iPad is expected to be announced this year.
According to The New York Times, the next Apple tablet will "likely to sell for significantly less" to compete with the Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire.
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The idea is to help Apple maintain its dominance in the tablet market as several companies in the tech business are launching smaller, more affordable tablets to outsell Apple.
Natalie Kerris, an Apple spokeswoman, declined to comment, according to the article.
iPad's biggest competitor is the recently shipped Nexus 7 by Google, an Android device that costs $199. The seven-inch Nexus 7 is completely sold out from advance online sales orders. According to several reports, the tablet has been getting good reviews based on its software and battery life, in addition to its size and price. The latest Apple iPad is $499, with a 9.7-inch display.
Amazon is working on a new version of Kindle Fire, with a larger display that could compete more directly with the iPad. The source that revealed Amazon's plans to The New York Times was a developer briefed by Amazon. Drew Herdener, an Amazon spokesman, declined to comment.
Apple's next biggest rival will be a new tablet by Microsoft, called Surface. Microsoft announced the arrival of the upcoming device this summer. In addition to creating the Surface, which could go on sale as early as the fall, Microsoft has also agreed to invest up to $605 million in Barnes & Noble's Nook business. Ths is likely to help Microsoft increase sales of their software products.
According to the article, this is not the first tablet prototype Apple has developed. In the mid-2000s a seven-inch screen tablet had been developed then declined, said a former engineer at the company who helped build the smaller prototype.
During a conference call with Wall Street analysts in 2010, not long after the original iPad came out, the late Steven P. Jobs, Apple's then chief executive, dismissed the seven-inch tablet idea. Mr. Jobs thought the device was too small and wondered aloud what it was good for "besides surfing the Web in the bathroom," added the source.
"There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touch screen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them," Mr. Jobs reportedly said. "This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps."
With so much competition in the market right now, Apple has since revisited the idea.
Apple's most affordable option for their tablet, is the second-generation iPad at $399, $100 less than the latest version with its high-resolution screen, known as a Retina display.
Apple has not confirmed when the nicknamed "iPad Mini" will be available.
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