Answer: If Steve Jobs is a World Class Liar
The Rumor: A Taiwanese pop star and race car driver named Jimmy Lin has posted a picture of himself holding an iPad and a smaller, 7" device running what appears to be iOS. He claims the tablet is his "new toy iPad Mini".
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Analysis: This could be a photoshopping job. That "mini" could just as easily be a resized iPad. The device in question does appear to have a slight curve at the top, which may point to it being a legitimate, non-manipulated image. If that's the case, this thing is much more likely to be a rip-off Chinese iPad-clone than a new iPad.
But What if it Is? We'll finally have proof that Steve Jobs is going senile. Back in October at the Q4 conference call, the Apple CEO blasted the 7" form-factor. He thought they were too small, and revealed that Apple spent a lot of time testing user reactions to screen size. Their findings showed 10" as the minimum size for "great tablet apps".
He also noted that every tablet user is also a smartphone user. It's silly to cut out display size to try and make your slate more pocket-friendly. The objections go on and on, in way too much detail to just be Jobs trying to throw us off the track. Steve hates 7" tablets, and he viewed Samsung with nothing but scorn for trying to launch one.
So yeah, a 7" iPad mini seems unlikely. Hell, we may not even see an iPad 2 launch in January. iPad.net came up with five pretty good reasons Apple may not be gearing up for a January reveal. The original iPad is still selling freaky-well, with nearly 17% of owners having two iPads in the same house. Why let the wind out of those sails this early?
Personally, I still hold to the January reveal- if only because Motorola's tablet will get way too much press otherwise.
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Before I sign off, there's one more New iPad 2 Rumor out today. Apple is hiring new engineers for iOS. Potential applicants are required to have "knowledge of developing navigation software". A proprietary turn-by-turn app would really piss off TomTom, but it would also make iOS more competitive against Android.