Oct 29, 2012
So Apple announced the iPad Mini, and it is both exactly what we thought it would be and what we didn’t. It’s a 7.9″ iPad, but comes in at $329, well above the entry-level price of many 7″ Android tablets.
The strategy seems curious: make a smaller iPad, but tout it as being bigger than other smaller tablets. Don’t know how well that’s going to work. Also, since the screen isn’t Retina, it’s another downgrade from the full-size iPad, and technically has a worse PPI than the Nexus 7, and Kindle Fire HD.
The iPad Mini does seem like a half-measure at first, a device that won’t kill the Android tablet market on price while also not being the latest hardware. But Apple might not have wanted to undercut the iPod touch, and maybe even position the iPad 2 as a moderate upgrade.
But really, the big thing that Apple seems to be focused on here is quite simple: they can ‘win’ by making a profit off of the iPad Mini where the competition cannot. Google/Asus, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble are trying to expand out the reach of their music, video, and app libraries, and getting their tablets in as many hands as possible is very important. Apple already has that with iTunes. While there’s the possibility of another increase in iTunes downloads, it won’t have the kind of marginal value that the competition gets.
Maybe Apple realizes that they can’t kill Android tablets, much like how the Android phone market still exists alongside the iPhone market. But they can position themselves as a high-quality alternative to those tablets. They’ll be making a hefty profit by using mass-produced parts like the A5 chip, which power the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, 2011 devices that are still be produced, and also powers the iPod touch 5th generation. Oh, and by getting more people into the iPad market, they encourage more iPad apps to be made.
And maybe by getting cheaper, smaller iPads in people’s hands, Apple can expand their reach in education. The overall stability of the platform with wider selection of optimzized apps may be more appealing to schools looking to integrate the iPad. So Apple could make a product that will not kill the competition, but will make them plenty of cash. The early reports of preorders selling out is a sign of that.
But this is also a sign that Apple does see value in competing with their Android competition. Look at the way the Nexus 7, while unnamed, was constantly compared to in the presentation. Just the very existence of this product is a sign. The competition is having an impact on Apple and the iPad market.