Strategy Analytics' (www.strategyanalytics.com) latest tablet survey -- which covered six countries across three continents-- found that demand for 7-inch screens among future tablet owners was slightly stronger than for current iPad owners.
The "Strategy Analytics Tablet & Touchscreen Strategies Service Report" found that 10-inch screens remained the most popular preference across all countries. However, across all six countries, 20% of the sample of 923 tablet owners (including iPad owners) would prefer a 7-inch screen device for their next purchase.
The Strategy Analytics research showed marked differences between countries, particularly between US/UK, France, Germany, and Asian markets, including desired screen size, the most popular applications, distribution channels used, brand perceptions and timeframes for replacement tablet purchase.
The interest in 10-inch screens by iPad owners was greatest in the USA, UK and China where 62% or more preferred this size; this contrasted with 46% of owners in Germany where 31%of owners would prefer a 7-inch screen. In Japan, a quarter of Apple iPad owners stated that they would choose a 7-inch screen if available.
"Clearly Apple has correctly targeted the most preferred screen size with its initial 10-inch iPad offerings, but our survey suggests that if the 'iPad Nano' is launched in the next few weeks, the company can be confident that market potential exists for a smaller screen size," says Peter King, service director for the Tablet and Touchscreen Strategies Service (TTS).
Martin Bradley, associate director and author of the report, adds that "the survey also indicated that demand for 7-inch screens among future tablet owners was slightly stronger than for current iPad owners."
Of course, there are some downsides to a 7-inch iPad. Magazines will look better, and more "natural," on a 10-inch model. I think most people will prefer the bigger model for browsing the 'Net as you can see more of the content on web pages. And when it comes to using productivity apps (Pages, Keynote, etc.) I think the "full sized" Apple tablet makes more sense.
However, a 7-inch model would make a fine ebook reader. And a lower price tag would make the iPad more affordable to more people.
What about the display? As noted by by the "iMore" site (http://macte.ch/4IKby), "using the iPhone 3GS display on the iPad mini is the most obvious solution.
"The 163 ppi display has been manufactured for Apple since the original iPhone in 2007, and is still being manufactured today for the iPhone 3GS launched in 2009," says "iMore." "The economies of scale are probably huge by now, and this might well be the cheapest option for Apple. The iPhone 3GS retails for $375 off-contract, which compares to $200 for the iPod touch. Absent the phone extras, the 163 dpi panel is likely the easiest way for Apple to hit the $200 price point for the iPad mini as well, with at least some margin to spare."
The downside is that such a screen wouldn't be a Retina display. Most likely Apple would expect you to spring for a bigger, more expensive tablet if you wanted this.
As for me, I'll stick with the current size of iPad, which seems to be the perfect tablet size for Yours Truly.