Although it hasn’t happened yet, it’s clearly only a matter of time before Microsoft officially unboxes a smaller form-factor version of its Surface tablet. A Surface Mini has been rumoured for well over a year — with both 7- and 8-inch options apparently being considered to augment the company’s existing line up of Windows powered tablets with the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2.
The 10.6-inch screen size of those existing tablets is already larger than Apple’s full-size iPad (9.7 inches), and Cupertino of course has had the iPad mini in its arsenal since late 2012 — meaning there’s both scope and pressure for Microsoft to offer a smaller version of its own brand Windows slate.
Sales of Surfaces have been sluggish to put it nicely, and Microsoft’s share of the tablet market remains minuscule — so Redmond really needs something cute to spin up Surface sales. A smaller form factor slate is thus a no-brainer, given how successful the iPad mini has been.
As we wait for the inevitable to drop, here’s the latest heavy hint that a Surface Mini is coming: an over-eager consumer electronics vendor has posted two listings on Amazon (currently here and here) — which suggest an 8-inch Surface Mini is arriving in the not too distant future.
Both listings (by VSTN) include what appear to be images of the forthcoming Surface Mini, albeit clad in the respective accessories being showcased for sale.
The listings are for a smart cover and a Bluetooth keyboard case for a device dubbed “Microsoft Surface Mini tablet”.
The Bluetooth keyboard listing specifies that the case will “only fit Microsoft Surface Mini 8-inch tablet” — putting a size spec on the as-yet unreleased (and unconfirmed) tablet.
Both listings also say the Surface Mini accessories will be in stock on May 18. Long-time Microsoft watcher Mary J Foley has previously suggested an early 2014 launch is on the cards for the Surface Mini.
Of course all this is circumstantial evidence. And the listing could be the result of a spot of creative photoshopping and some miscommunication. But signs that a launch of a smaller Surface is looming are continuing to stack up. And, when Microsoft’s mini slate does eventually arrive, it might well look a little something like this:
The Amazon listings were spotted earlier via Twitter.