Just as Apple diversified its iPod range, analysts and industry experts claim the Apple is developing a smaller iPad, designed to lure customers who want different sizes of tablets.

According to New York Times sources, Apple is developing a new tablet with a 7.85in screen that will sell for “significantly less” than the current entry-level iPad (the £329 iPad 2).

Analyst Horace Dediu notes that this mini iPad (or larger iPod touch) could be better suited to watching media and reading ebooks, rather than activities that involve typing, like email.

Former Apple manager Leslie Grandy told NYTimes that the 7in form factor would be a good size for women’s purses. “I really do feel like this is the sweet spot for them,” she said.

The article notes that this wouldn’t be the first time that Apple has extended the scope of the products on offer. It used a similar strategy with the iPod, from the  £40 2GB iPod shuffle to the 169GB iPod classic at £199 and the 64GB iPod touch at £329. The strategy was a great success that enabled Apple win the majority of the MP3 player market.

However, the report also notes that Apple’s late CEO famously denied that Apple would pursue a smaller iPad, suggesting it should be sold with sandpaper so that users could whittle their fingertips down to fine points.

Jobs said: “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. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10in screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.”

Jobs had held this view for some time. A former Apple engineer told NYTimes that the first tablet prototype Apple began developing in the mid-2000s had a seven-inch screen, but Jobs thought the device was too small, asking what it was good for “besides surfing the web in the bathroom.”

But even Jobs changed his mind on occasion. The report notes that sometimes the previous stance was a diversion to keep the competitors away from a “juicy opportunity”.

Another report, leading weight to the 7in iPad story, claims that rumours from the developer community suggest that there are changes in iOS 6 that make it much easier to develop resolution-independent apps; so different screen sizes or aspect ratios for apps should be possible.

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