Smaller iPad May Come in the Fall

Since it was introduced, the iPad has been by far the biggest player in the tablet space. And it doesn’t just have a big market share—compared with a number comparable devices that have come out in the last few years, it’s actually really big.

The iPad has a 9.7-inch screen, compared with about 7 inches for the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire and the Samsung Galaxy’s smaller versions. Now, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is preparing to introduce its own smaller tablet.

Citing unnamed sources, the story says Apple has told component suppliers to prepare for mass production of a tablet with a less-than-eight-inch screen in September. Rumors of a smaller cousin for the iPad have been floating for some time.

The tablet market is growing rapidly. Market research firm IHS iSuppli predicts that tablet sales will rise 85 percent to 127 million units this year. The iPad held a 62 percent share of the world market for tablets last year, and its dominance is even greater in work environments.

As more variations on the table theme—notably the Microsoft Surface Tablet and Google’s Nexus 7—roll out, Apple must be feeling some pressure to diversify its offerings. But being the big guy in the room comes with complications. One report last year found that the biggest competitor for the iPad is actually the iPhone, which, of course, has only a 3.5-inch screen. That raises the question of whether a smaller Apple tablet will function mostly to subdivide the company’s enormous market.

Alex, Kindle or Nook – which e-book reader?

I am sure many of have been bombarded with Kindle ads in the last couple of months. They seem to be everywhere – magazines, billboards, online display ads of different sorts. So you probably already know that Kindle is the e-book reader from Amazon. Nook and Alex (not yet released) are two of its competitors. As we go into 2010 and beyond, I foresee that e-books are going to (eventually) completely replace paper books. So save your hardcopy collection, you may be sitting on an antiques fortune!

As a technology enthusiast, I took the time to try Kindle first hand, and read reviews on other deivices. I wanted to share my thoughts about these devices with those of you who may be interested in purchasing one for yourself or your business.

Kindle2 by Amazon – the pre-emenent e-book reader device out in the marketplace. Based on E- Ink technology (E-ink is a company that was started in 1997 by MIT grads based on research done there; it uses ultra-low power to generate paper-like appearance on thin, light form) , it also sports a cellular modem which allows you to download content wirelessly (the updated version as of October 09 rides on AT&T GSM network, so it works inside and outside of US). The device can hold 1500 titles in its memory, so you will never run out of reading material. Thoughts: I tried this device out for a few days. I think it works well generally, and is good enough for what I consider to be a Gen1 ebook reader. The drawbacks for me are: no native PDF support, no web browser, you have to pay(!!) to read blogs, can’t browse Google Books for free books, and there is no feature to “lend” books amongst devices. Also, E-Ink is a bit too slow on the refresh for my tastes. This device has a 4-star rating on

Nook by Barnes and Noble – This was supposed to have been a Kindle killer. However, plagued by lawsuits, delays, and out of stock problems, it didnt turn out to be. This device uses E-Ink technology just like Kindle, but has a smaller color display on the bottom. This device runs the open source Google Android OS (which can be hacked to enable the full browser and other apps!!), and can store about as much content as  the Kindle. It also rides on AT&T network and works in and out of USA. In addition, in supports a feature called LendMe, which allows you to lend books to your freinds – it is removed from your library for the duration of the “lend”, which is up to 14 days..Thoughts: The positives about this device are its price ($259 as compared to $299 for Kindle2), the AndroidOS, the color mini-screen, LendMe, PDF and e-pub support, Google Books support..So on paper, this is the Kindle Killer! In reality though, the device has been plagued with delays (latest ship date – 1/11/2010 for orders placed before Christmas, 2/1 for those after). There are also early adapters reporting that the device performs sluggush, its hard to find books, and the interface is not intuiative.

Alex by Spring Design – this is device worth waiting for in my book. It should have been released by end of year 2009, however, their website still shows “coming soon” as of today. This device is based on Androis OS, and has 2 displays similar to Nook, however, the color LCD display appears to be larger. The display features a built-in browser and and interactive technology called Duet Navigator that allows for multimedia integration between what you are reading and browsing. It works on 3G networks such as GSM and CDMA, as well as Wi-Fi. Other details are scant, but this is the one to watch!

Bottom Line:  we are going to see a lot more new e-book readers on the market this year. Asus is coming out with one in March, and Sony Daily Edition is out (I did not review it as I feel it is overpriced for what it does). 2010 may yet turn into the Year of The EBook.