Apple Inc. may be readying a version of its iPad tablet computer with a 7-inch screen to fend off a threat from competing smaller-sized devices, according to an analyst at Rodman & Renshaw LLC.
The product may be ready as soon as the first quarter of 2011, Rodman analyst Ashok Kumar wrote in a research report today. His analysis is based on conversations with Apple’s suppliers. The current iPad has a 9.7-inch screen.
Apple may be considering the smaller iPad to vie with Samsung Electronics Co., maker of the Galaxy Tab. The wireless tablet device will run Google Inc.’s Android operating system and be offered by the four biggest U.S. wireless carriers: AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG. The Galaxy Tab will have a 7-inch display and video-conferencing features via Wi-Fi networks, Samsung said Sept. 16.
“Apple will be playing catch-up on the videoconferencing features,” Kumar said in an interview.
Apple’s latest iPhone and iPod Touch support a Wi-Fi videoconferencing feature called FaceTime, which Apple would extend to the new iPad, Kumar said.
After demonstrating the product in January, Apple started selling the iPad in the U.S. in April. By the end of the quarter ended June 26, Apple had sold 3.3 million iPads in 10 countries. Apple started selling the iPad in China on Sept. 17.
Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California- based Apple, declined to comment.
Apple rose $5.14 or 1.9 percent, to $280.51 by 12:38 p.m. in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Before today, the shares had climbed 31 percent this year.