Aug 6, 2012
So far, Android’s tablet advantage has been in the low-cost and 7" size space: the people want tablets, but don’t want to pay iPad prices for them, and because there’s nothing really to do with the BlackBerry Playbook, Android tablets like the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire are extremely popular.
However, the internets are currently quite abuzz with the possibility that Apple has reneged on keeping the iPad at 9.7“ â€“ there’s a lot of smoke building around the idea of an ”iPad mini" and given the tenacity of the Apple rumor scene, there’s probably fire there.
It makes sense for Apple to release an iPad mini â€“ while it may not be as productive of a device, it is fantastic for media consumption, and lest we forget that iTunes is the media supply behemoth. No matter what they do with the size. Will they do what the Nexus 7 does and use a special hybrid phone/tablet interface for the smaller screen size, or just stick with the standard iPad interface? Good question.
But the most important question for the tablet market will be price. The odds that Apple would release at $199 to compete with the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire seem unlikely, if they’re planning to make a profit, or make it as powerful as the 3rd generation iPad currently is. However, pricing at $299 could make it a compelling option: cheap enough to where people might rationally consider it over the cheaper Android options, yet expensive enough to where Apple could potentially make their profit off of it.
Now, there’s been hardly anything conclusive to prove that the iPad mini will exist, just a lot of rumors and these seeming photos of its shell. There’s been other seemingly-solid rumors out there that haven’t panned out. Plus, the iPad is pulling down a solid profit for the company and this is despite being at least $300 more than most 7" tablets. However, the big barrier to a $299 price point is the high cost of components that are in the current iPad, though smaller screen size and battery components will help lower the cost slightly.
Now, what about the market of Android tablets? Unless Apple somehow does get into the $199 range, there will be people who would rather save $100. And there’s always the “Anything but an Apple product” factor at play with some people as well. But, what obvious advantage would Android tablets have besides being lower cost devices? Phones come in a variety of price points along with being bigger than the iPhone (though the smoke signals with the iPhone 5 are that it will be a bigger device as well), and they provide a distinct product from the iPhone. But the reason why Apple has succeeded is that they’ve been able to compete on price with their competitors. The tablet market doesn’t have an obvious comparison, and the iPad already has such a huge advantage. An iPad mini could be disastrous for the Android tablet market.