Since its introduction of the iPad nearly two and a half years ago, Apple has held onto the lion's share of the tablet market. Particularly, Apple has managed to hold off all competitors that dared to mimic the 9.7- or 10.1-inch platform made famous by the iPad.
However, the new threat to Apple's dominance in the tablet space may not come from 9.7-inch and higher models. Surprisingly, Apple faces its largest competition in the tablet space from a form factor that, to date, they do not offer – the 7-inch model.
Approximately one year ago, Amazon shook the tablet landscape by introducing the first sub-$200 tablet, the Amazon Kindle Fire . As many as there were skeptical of the online book vendor's foray into electronics, many people saw the move as a stroke of genius. By combining the vast library of online titles at their disposal, Amazon would be able to match the current industry leader, Apple, in the one area that Apple had a significant advantage over their other competitors - content. With over 6 million Kindle Fire units sold upon its release, another powerful player in Silicon Valley took notice. Despite being known as the search-engine leader, Google, used their experience in previous electronics releases to introduce the Google Nexus 7 , another sub-$200 tablet featuring impressive specifications such as a quad-core processor and a rich display that was unexpected for that price point.
The introduction of these two devices, and subsequent improvements like the Kindle Fire HD , caught the attention of consumers with both devices selling in high volumes similar to that of their Apple counterparts. The Google Nexus 7 is expected to sell over 8 million units before the end of 2012, according to DigiTimes' estimates.
With the 7-inch market growing at an exponential rate, it was only a matter of time before Apple would address this product segment. Despite Steve Jobs' protestations that 7-inch