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7-inch iPad coming? Loose lips in Shenzen say yes

Since the iPad was first announced in January of this year, there's been speculation that a smaller form factor -- say, something between an iPad and an iPod touch -- would be added to the line.

Shanzai.com, a site that follows China's technology industry, has posted a rumor to the effect that Apple's next tablet will resemble "an oversized iPhone 4" rather than a smaller iPad. Shanzai says that they have "ears to the ground in Shenzen," the home of Apple contract manufacturer Foxconn, and that loose lips have stated that the 7" tablet is a "finished product."

Sam Levin of AppMinute.com and I discussed the possibility of a smaller tablet on a podcast we recorded right after our abortive attempt at doing TUAW TV Live this week. Apple abhors a lot of different products that are not heavily differentiated. I brought up the example of Archos, which has a line of six Android-based tablets that range in screen size from 2.8" to 10.1." That just seems to be a bit odd, as there's not a tremendous amount that really makes the devices different other than screen size. Apple, however, has managed to turn the iPod line into four completely different products -- the minimalist shuffle, the tiny touch screen nano, the Classic, and the iPod touch.

Would Apple risk cannibalizing sales of the iPod touch on the small device side and the existing iPad on the larger tablet side to bring in a new form factor? Does a smaller iPad that would be difficult to type on make sense? What do you think? Leave your comments below.

[via 9to5Mac]

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