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Is the 7 inch tablet market heating up for a battle for supremacy between Apple and Android?

Posted by pyroscott, in Author: Scott Johnson 15 March 2012 · 1,610 views

Apple iOS Android WP8 Tablet Galaxy Tab Nexus iPad
Is the 7 inch tablet market heating up for a battle for supremacy between Apple and Android? by Scott Johnson
Sprint 4G Rollout Updates
Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 12:51 PM MDT


The 7 inch form factor for the tablet PC was largely understated up until the Kindle Fire’s release last year.  There were the expensive high end Android offerings from Samsung, Dell, Acer, Toshiba and HTC as well as the Blackberry Playbook.  The inexpensive end was headlined by the Kindle Fire, Barnes and Noble Nook and Lenovo.  Sales were underwhelming, until the Kindle Fire caught everyone’s attention and sold millions of units.  Now, we have what may be shaping up to be a faceoff between iOS and Android in the 7 inch tablet market.  The idea of an offering smaller than the 10 inch tablet may have been dancing in Apple and Google’s heads prior to the Fire being released, but it would seem that they didn’t pull the trigger on those plans until after seeing how the $200 Kindle Fire did in the marketplace.

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Apple is rumored to be releasing a tablet in a size between the 3.5 inch size of the iPod touch and the 9.7 inch iPad.  Some say that the reasoning behind Apple’s puzzling move to ditch the numerical model designation of the new iPad is so that they can simplify the tablet line and release an iPad mini, with naming conventions similar to their line of iPods using generations instead of numeric model numbers.  Current rumors have Apple releasing a 7.85 inch tablet with a price point under $300 for the base model.  The bezel is also rumored to be shrunk down to increase the portability of the unit.  Apple rarely makes bad decisions when it comes to what components to insert in their devices, so it is safe to say this would be a device of “the highest quality.”  We could see this “iPad mini” as early as 3rd quarter 2012.

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Situated on the opposite end is the latest offering in Google’s Nexus line of devices.  It was recently confirmed by industry sources that Asus will manufacture a 7 inch Android tablet with the Nexus designation.  This tablet would see a price point between $150 and $250 and be constructed of premium components.  Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt was quoted stating that the tablet would be “of the highest quality.”  This tablet is rumored to be hitting shelves as early as May, giving it a slight head start on its competition from Apple.

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Another competitor in the game will be Samsung, which has built a reputation for releasing high quality devices.  They may have something in the works that would integrate the “S Pen” stylus present in the Galaxy Note and the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet they revealed at CES 2012.  Samsung would be smart to recognize the trend in the 7 inch tablet market and keep their offering in the $300 or less range if they want to be competitive.  They have to be careful with this as they don't want to undercut sales of their Galaxy Note phone/tablet.

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The last competitor in this battle for 7 inch tablet supremacy could come from Nokia.  With Microsoft bringing their Windows Phone 8 integration of phone and desktop operating systems to market this year, it would only make sense that they would include it on tablets as well.  If they intend on moving into contention with Android and iOS, they can’t afford to miss a “battle” as this could turn out to be.  To be competitive in this battle, they would be wise to offer a 7 inch tablet in the under $250 price range.  Given the ability of WP 7.5 to run fast and smooth on hardware that appears on paper to be underwhelming, they should be able to hit that price point.

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This summer is looking to be a battle of heavyweight 7 inch tablets at a price lower than we may be used to for high end, well outfitted tablets.  Will they see the sales numbers they are looking for?  Or did the Kindle Fire snap up all the budget-minded tablet buyers, leaving these tablets out in the cold? If you were in the market for a 7 inch tablet, which tablet would interest you the most?

Sources: Digitimes Rethink Wireless




I prefer 7" tablets myself for most things I do. Thanks for the write up, Scott!

Robert
I'm sure Apple will claim they were pioneers of this too... :-)
I actually prefer 8"/8.5" myself. Its not too big, not too small.

I actually prefer 8"/8.5" myself. Its not too big, not too small.


I agree, 7in isn't really that much screen for watching videos or reading books/magazines/web but once it gets to a 10 inch, its usually slightly to bulky or heavy to use comfortably... and at that point you can find a net book for less.
Besides my personal bias, google should offer a slightly larger screen size, but around the same actual size, and at the same price point so that they have a competitive advantage. The only thing that I see as being a problem is that the kindle is looked at as 'consumer friendly' where google is looked at as for a tech savvy person, but I think there were plenty of tech savvy people who got the fire because of the good price and would switch to a better tablet experience if the price was right.

The other thing that I was thinking was that google could have a winner if they had a $250 price point for wi-fi only, but a $150 4G version with a contract... sprint especially would benefit because the unlike the iPhone, it would be cheaper for them to carry and the end price would be low enough for many people to add it to their plans.