Apple Sizing Up Downsized Tablet

Welcome to today's broadband and cable news roundup.

  • In what's surely the third go-round on this rumor, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) is reportedly gearing up to produce a tablet with a smaller screen than the iconic iPad, reports The Wall Street Journal, noting that Apple has told its manufacturing partners in Asia/Pacific to prepare for mass production on such a device. The paper didn't say when Apple might actually launch a mini tablet, but it's another possible indication that Apple may pursue a lower-cost device that would match up size-wise with products such as the Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) Kindle Fire and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s new Nexus 7. The paper, citing two unnamed sources, says the new screen will likely be smaller than eight inches, compared to the 9.7-inch screens that graced the first two generations of the iPad. The lack of a cheaper, smaller tablet hasn't hurt Apple so far. The iPad, which has become a key second screen for cable operators and other traditional pay-TV service providers, ended 2012 with 62 percent of the global tablet market, according to IHS iSuppli . (See Google's First Tablet Lights Fire Under Kindle.)

  • Still, such a product would counter Apple's previous thinking about the market for smaller tablets. AllThingsD points out that the late Steve Jobs was not a fan of a mini tablet, noting in a fall 2010 earnings call that Apple would sidestep a seven-inch screen, "because we don't want to hit [a lower] price point." If the WSJ is correct on Apple's new strategy, than it's apparent that Jobs's view from about two years ago is no longer shared by the company's new chief, Tim Cook. But the report also notes that Jobs was notorious for panning new products and markets until Apple jumped in.

  • About 87 percent of U.S. homes still subscribe to some form of a multi-channel video service, about the same level it's been at for the past two years, and up from 80 percent in 2004, Leichtman Research Group Inc. (LRG) revealed in its latest study. Although over-the-top (OTT) video services are being blamed for the emergence of so-called "cord-cutters," the "defining characteristic" of those who don't subscribe to a pay-TV package remains the level of household income, according to LRG President Bruce Leichtman. On that note, he says 6 percent of homes with annual incomes over $75,000 don't subscribe to a multi-channel service. That jumps to 12 percent in the $30,000 to $75,000 income range, and 27 percent in homes with yearly incomes of less than $30,000.

  • Schurz Communications Inc. has closed a deal to acquire the interests of Orbitel Communications LLC, a company that serves about 10,000 cable subs in Maricopa, Ariz. Schurz operates three other cable systems in: Sun Lakes, Ariz.; Coral Springs, Fla.; and Hagerstown, Md.

  • Details of a new version of the PlayStation 3 have been outlined in a Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) . The belief is that the latest entry will be an even slimmer version of its predecessor or could mark an internal hardware change that would help Sony reduce costs on its game console, which supports Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) and an array of other over-the-top video apps.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

  • joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:28:33 PM
    re: Apple Sizing Up Downsized Tablet

    The other thing Apple likes is a big profit margin.

    We've seen several spins of the mini iPad and mini iPhone rumors before. What exactly is Apple's motivation though? It already has the top-selling tablet, why cut its margin to compete with tablets that aren't selling as well as the existing iPad?

    sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:28:32 PM
    re: Apple Sizing Up Downsized Tablet

    If Apple did this, I would think it's clearly about the competition. But, would it really hurt its margins all that much? I imagine a smaller one would lack the retina display and LTE chip, so maybe it's not all that expensive to produce.

    joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:28:32 PM
    re: Apple Sizing Up Downsized Tablet

    But if it doesn't have the Apple cool-factor like the display then what's the point?

    Anyhoo, remember these are still just rumors. Both the WSJ said and Bloomberg reported that Apple was getting iPhone minis ready in Feb. 2011. That doesn't seem to have happened, does it?

    Prizm 12/5/2012 | 5:28:31 PM
    re: Apple Sizing Up Downsized Tablet

    Maybe it's just the remote for Apple's rumored TV?


    sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:28:31 PM
    re: Apple Sizing Up Downsized Tablet

    As long as it has the Apple name, it should have some cool factor. IPhone 3G S are still selling well based on their low price tags.

    craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 5:28:30 PM
    re: Apple Sizing Up Downsized Tablet

    Back in the early days of mobile video, some prognosticators were talking about a day when we would have devices with thin, flexible screens that could slide out, fan out or be stretched out to provide a bigger video screen.

    Does anyone know, is this actually being developed by anyone? Or is it still in the same category as flying cars and jet packs?  


    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:28:30 PM
    re: Apple Sizing Up Downsized Tablet

    I hope Apple gives this a shot, as I do like the form factor of the Fire since it makes it a bit more portable. I like the iPad, but wouldn't mind having a device with a screen that falls somewhere in between the iPad and the iPhone.... or maybe something along the lines of that Samsung phablet.  JB

    sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 5:28:26 PM
    re: Apple Sizing Up Downsized Tablet

    Those kind of devices are still shown at the gadget shows, and I think wearable devices could take off. I think watches will be the first form factor to emerge.

    craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 5:28:25 PM
    re: Apple Sizing Up Downsized Tablet

    I'm still waiting for my Dick Tracy wristwatch. When I was a kid (black & white TV days) we'd watch Dick Tracy cartoons and he would use his video watch to call his colleagues, including Joe Jitsu, a Japanese stereotype who would be very politically incorrect by today's standards.   

    Until then, it'll be fun to watch the introduction of all these tablet variations. 


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