Weighing in on a recent resurgence of the old iPad mini rumor, this time corroborated by credible news outlets such as Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal, Apple pundit John Gruber opined that Apple could use existing manufacturing processes to quickly – and more importantly, cheaply – churn out millions and millions of seven-inch display panels for the iPad mini…
The aforementioned stories both describe a miniaturized iPad as having a screen that’s 7 inches to 8 inches diagonally. Responding to this, Gruber wrote in a post over at his blog Daring Fireball (emphasis mine):
Displays aren’t manufactured at their finished size; rather, they’re made on big sheets, and then cut to size. I believe the iPad Mini (or whatever it’s going to be called) uses the same display as the iPhone 3GS.
Note that Gruber has been right on lots of things, more often than not. He also has some deep connections at Apple and was the first to report back in April that there was a 7.85-inch iPad with 1024×768 display cooking inside labs at Cupertino.
Gruber also provides a little insight behind display manufacturing to clear things up a bit:
So instead of cutting these sheets into 3.5-inch 480 × 320 displays for the iPhone 3GS, they’ll cut them into 7.85-inch 1024 × 768 displays for the smaller iPad. Same exact display technology, though — display technology that Apple has been producing at scale ever since the original iPhone five years ago.
These are displays Apple knows they can produce efficiently and in enormous quantities. All they have to do is cut them into bigger pieces.
It makes sense to use existing, mature and cost-optimized manufacturing processes to hit that rumored $249 price point. Besides, Apple’s agility and supply chain expertise – should it decide to manufacture the iPad mini – will prove crucial as it’d be able to quickly put the device on store shelves around the world.
Contrast this to Amazon which only sells its $199 Kindle Fire in the United States or Google that offers the Nexus 7 in three countries, though only U.S. customers can buy music, magazines or television shows on the Play Store marketplace.
Although a recent report by a Chinese news site asserted the iPad mini would rock the same Retina display as the new iPad, both Bloomberg and the Journal specifically mention a 1024-by-768 pixel resolution display (again, to keep costs down).
We believe this to be true as all existing apps would support the iPad mini without any modification required. Users wouldn’t need to sand their fingers down and Apple would avoid introducing a new display resolution that would inevitably add up to platform fragmentation.
Does that make any sense to you?