For years we’ve talked about the possibility of a lower cost “iPhone Nano” to compliment Apple’s flagship handset. It was argued that the cheaper device would help the Cupertino company address the low-end market, and make inroads with prepaid customers.

Although the rumored Nano wasn’t announced at Apple’s iPhone event last month, Tim Cook’s team did introduce two low-cost handsets: the $99 8GB iPhone 4, and the free iPhone 3GS. The company now covers nearly every smartphone price point possible…

Apple seems to be confident that the move will pay off, considering Tim Cook just forecasted a $40 billion dollar Q4. But with reports coming in that demand for the iPad 2 is dwindling, you have to wonder if Apple’s tablet line is in need of a similar adrenaline shot.

Not only is the slate up against a struggling economy this holiday season, but it also faces some stiff competition. As most of you know, Amazon just released its popular Kindle Fire. And although it’s no iPad-killer, it’s a good $300 dollars cheaper than Apple’s tablet.

So what does Apple do to maintain its dominance in an increasingly competitive tablet market? Some pundits have suggested that, as it did with its iPod line, Apple create different versions of the iPad. For instance a smaller, less expensive model. It’s possible.

In fact there’s a rumor going around that Apple just ordered a batch of 7 inch displays from LG for a smaller iPad. Admittedly, if the company could outfit the device with a Retina display, an A5 processor, and drop its price a bit, it could really be onto something.

But the alternative (and more likely) route to creating an all-new slate would be similar to the road that Apple recently took with its iPhone line. When it introduces the new version of its tablet next year, Apple could simply keep the iPad 2 around at a discounted price.

Imagine a $399, or even a $329, iPad 2. That would give consumers that are considering a $200 tablet like the Kindle Fire a lot more to think about. But will that be enough to keep Apple competitive? Or does Apple really need a whole new slate to stay on top?

  • Anonymous

    I doubt it; Apple has always been about high-end devices for generally premium prices. Look at the base specs for their weakest laptop, the Air. It’s still a great deal more powerful and expensive than other similar models on the market; however, you’re mostly getting what you paid for, even if it is a bit overpriced. The same philosophy follows the iPhone, the iPod, and iPad. The only exception is the iPod Touch. Remember, however, that it’s pretty one of a kind right now, and even though it’s more expensive than a Kindle Fire it doesn’t have any competition. You don’t think of buying a Touch or a tablet, a Touch or a phone, a Touch or a 3DS; it’s a Touch or nothing.

  • Steven Malnati

    Apple won’t release a smaller version of any of their products. Apple stands, and I believe will always stand, for not fragmenting devices across the board. Steve Jobs slammed Google and the Android ecosystem for having such a fragmented loop. If there’s a new iPad–let’s just say it’s 7″ for now–developers would have to modify, create, and apply their apps, and whole new apps, to three different sources rather than two (3.5″ screen and 10″ screen). Apple would have to go through that whole “the iPad [nano] has 50,000 Apps while the App Store has 500,000” thing again. It won’t happen. Just like a bigger screen on an iPhone–or a smaller one–won’t happen either. It’s either an entirely new product with a different type of form and factor, or it stays tightly integrated and remains the same until it becomes obsolete.

  • come on; just stop with this bullshit low-end story; Apple is a high-end company that produces items that makes their customers feel exclusive. I don’t see them risking that in order to make even more money with low end items that would eventually have problems and general dissatisfaction in the long run.. In reality that would turn Apple into just “another” company that has phones from $50 to $800 and most people would lose the attraction to Apple.
    I want to feel i’m part of something exclusive, not just another one with another iDevice.

  • They will never make one…

  • Anonymous

    Apple…iPad too expensive? Please, please find me a 10’ish inch tablet that consumers are buying that sells for less than $499. Market share counts for NOTHING! It profits. PROFITS! Nobody beats Apple there.

    Now, if you want to change form factors and speculate that Apple would enter the 7″ market and dominate it like it does with the 10″ market…more power to you.

  • Dan

    not gonna happen, i’ll admit if you want the apple iPad2 64gb 3G is does get expensive. Which is why I got a refurbished 64gb 3G iPad 1.

  • Anonymous

    If they do, then they do. If they don’t , then they don’t. It’s an ever evolving market. What was protocol yesterday may mean very very little today. 7″ iPad… I can dig it.

  • Antonio Castro

    what i do see is an iPad 2, at 299 or maybe 399 after iPad 3 comes out…then people will definitely pay the extra 100 just cause is apple and they know they are getting a good tablet…unlike some of the shitty androids with 7inches…also know as the new netbooks of the tablet world.