The search for evidence of an upcoming iPad Mini has become worthy of a plot line for one of those forensic investigation shows that make forensic investigation seem a lot more sexy than it surely is.
The latest lead in the case of an Apple slate with a smaller form factor comes in the form of some interesting entries in Instapaper's logs that show devices calling themselves "iPad2,5" and "iPad2,6" accessed the app recently. The most recent 16GB iPad2 now on the market identifies as iPad2,4 when the device interacts with an app.
Marco Arment, developer of the text reader and bookmarking app, speculates that the previously unseen device identifiers could be new GSM or CDMA versions of iPad2,4, but more likely they're the rumored smaller iPad that could be based on the second-generation iPad.
Of course, in the interest of making for a more sexy storyline, we should probably imagine that Arment made the discovery late at night in his gigantic laboratory, using a pointless but cool-looking augmented-reality application that allows him to virtually surf through a funky visualization of the app logs. He'd share the discovery with three remarkably attractive colleagues who then debate its merits before donning some leather and hopping on their motorcycles to try to break into Apple headquarters to confirm the leak.
That's how Hollywood might make this story more dramatic, but Arment finds his own, perhaps slightly less sexy, drama in what he believes the finding reveals about Apple's strategy:
It's a textbook Tim Cook supply-chain move: selling the last generation's hardware at a lower price point to expand marketshare.
But this time, it's more dramatic. Rather than just sell the original iPad 2 with a price cut, they've made a new product designed to be far less expensive from day one by combining old and new parts: the 32nm iPad 2's guts, larger-cut iPhone 3GS screens, a smaller case and battery, and the new iPhone's low-power LTE chip for $100 more.
Of course, as Arment concedes, this is all just speculation, and we won't really know the truth until
Apple finally breaks down and reveals what it's been so cleverly concealing for so long. Or, as they say in the television business:
To be continued....