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iPad Mini May Hurt Android Tablet Vendors

With Apple's new iPad 3 publicly out of the bag and set to invade store shelves next week, the tablet industry is now setting its sights on that mysterious 7.85-inch version reportedly heading to retail shelves in 3Q12. What we're betting is that it will be christened as an iPod Touch XL, but tablet manufacturers are still quivering in their boots nonetheless, fearing the fierce competition the device will bring.

The two biggest contenders striking out against this "iPad Mini" will undoubtedly be Amazon and Google. Both are reportedly working on tablets, the former cranking out a follow-up to the highly-popular Kindle Fire with reported improvements and enhanced features. Rumors say that Google's 7-inch Nexus-branded "Google Experience Device" will be built by Asus and sport Nvidia's Tegra 3 SoC. Both are looking to dominate the $199 to $249 tablet sector, both could give Apple a run for its money, and both will likely hit the market with guns blazing, ready for a fight.

Other tablet vendors, despite their fear of a smaller iPad tablet, don't plan on sitting on the sidelines. Asus is gearing up to launch the quad-core MeMO 370T packed with Nvidia's Tegra 3 SoC, Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich," and a tasty pricetag of $249. Samsung has its own 7-inch Galaxy Tab models that don't have price points quite so cheap (and some are even subsidized), whereas other vendors like Archos provide 7-inch solutions but lack Google's library of services.

That said, competition may be difficult now as it is given that Amazon's Kindle Fire seemingly split the tablet sector in half: the $199 tablet tier and the $299+ tier. But once Apple and Google crash the low-end scene later this year, non-Apple tablet vendors may have a difficult time staying afloat. This may be where previous reports come in where vendors back off, focusing on PC hardware while the big three duke it out for control over the tablet market, both high and low.

Given that Apple didn't produce a 7.85-inch iPad this week when the iPad 3 came out of the closet, it's probably safe to assume Apple may promote this gadget as a large iPo dTouch, revealing it during the yearly iPod showcase in September. That’s speculation of course, but it wouldn't be surprising. Dropping the pricetag of the iPad 2 probably won't be enough to penetrate the low-end tablet sector, so a 7.85-inch model does seem likely.