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You're the Pundit: Does a 7" iPad make sense for the education market?

When it comes to forecasting the next big thing, we turn to our secret weapon: the TUAW braintrust. We put the question to you and let you have your go at it. Today's topic is Education and the iPad.

Last month, Apple introduced iBooks Author and expanded iTunes U. It was a big presentation and a big commitment to the textbook market.

The problem is, of course, whether the desire to embrace digital textbooks can live up to the costs and grim realities. Granted, Apple's probably going to start pushing the iPad to schools much more enthusiastically now that it's ceased educational sales of the MacBook, but putting an iPad in every student's backpack is still going to be a hard sell for districts that have to hold bake sales just to buy normal textbooks.

Just like everything else in the education sector, we're thinking the better-off schools in Silicon Valley and Connecticut will get iPads for Everyone™ first, and inner-city schools in Cleveland will have them by, maybe, 2032.

Plus, as far as the federal government goes, we estimate their five-year initiative might take at least 35 years.

So what might Apple do to speed up iPad and ebook adoption? What about that hypothetical 7" iPad? Could Apple (or better yet, would Apple) introduce such a critter this spring? Would a bargain priced "ePad" help spread tablets to the classroom, or will a discounted iPad 2 work better as a lower-cost distribution system?

You tell us. Place your vote in this poll and then join in the comments with all your predictions.

Will Apple introduce a bargain priced ePad?
There's simply no need. The iPad is the right size and the right price as it stands.560 (40.7%)
They may go for the ePad but with the same form factor as the iPad.261 (19.0%)
A smaller 7" bargain ePad could go head to head with the Kindle Fire on pricing while delivering Apple quality.435 (31.6%)
I before e, except after c -- and there's no cPad.67 (4.9%)
Something else. I'll tell you in the comments.52 (3.8%)

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