The iPad Mini, or “smaller” iPad, has been called the mystical white unicorn by many in the tech industry, the product that continues to be rumored, but has never been mentioned or released by Apple. But that may change this month, as we’ve been seeing pictures which are reported to be leaked mock-ups of the device’s final design for several weeks. We’ve also heard rumors that Apple will send out invites on the 10th of October for an event on the 17th [October] that will showcase the new iPad Mini. Now we are hearing that Apple has the smaller iPad already in production, for a release very soon. (According to the Washington Post)
We, as an industry, have been asking Apple to created a smaller iPad since the first 7-inch tablet, the first Galaxy Tab, hit the market. When the press questioned former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, on the matter, he discarded the idea, saying that it was too small and that it wouldn’t allow users to interact with the display, like they do with the iPad. To Job’s credit, the Galaxy Tab wasn’t a big success and neither were other 7-inch tablets. That is until, Amazon, released their 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet last year and for the first time, Apple had a competitor, mainly due to the Fire’s extremely low $199 price tag. In a matter of a year, Amazon gobbled up over 20% of the tablet marketshare, far below Apple’s grip, but still very respectable. Since the Kindle Fire, we’ve seen other companies like Acer, Lenovo, and Barnes & Noble release their variations of 7-inch tablets. We’ve even seen Google jump on the bandwagon and team with ASUS to release the Google Nexus 7, the first Google branded tablet. While it hasn’t sold as well as the Kindle Fire, which has since announced a brand new Kindle Fire HD, which comes in two sizes, 7-inches and 8.9-inches, it too has enjoyed a nice demand from customers, again, due to its low entry price [and perhaps due to the fact it came running a clean build of the latest version of Android, 4.1 Jelly Bean].
It’s clear now, there is a demand for smaller, more portable tablets. Apple who currently sits atop of the tablet market, will no doubt deliver a high-quality product, with a massive ecosystem, but it’s going to come down to price for a lot of consumers. As many folks have said they’d love an iPad, but the price is the determining factor, which is why the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 are so appealing. If Apple can offer a 7.85-inch iPad, with both a front and rear camera for about $250 – $299, they may have a massive hit on their hands, one that would probably crush sales of its competitors like Amazon, Samsung and Google. However, while many industry insiders claim that the $250-$299 is projected price point, I’m not so convinced. While it “could” happen, for me, it just seems out of place for Apple, not because they don’t want to sell a cheaper product, but because they have the iPod Touch, which is already 4-inches and priced at $299 (starting). It’s going to be hard to justify to consumers that the should buy a 4-inch iPod Touch for $50 more, than a 7.85-inch tablet. Sure, the iPad Mini’s would sell well, but it would cannibalize their iPod Touch sales. The only way they can make this work, is if the iPad features lower specs than the iPod Touch, like only 8GB of storage, compared to the iPod Touch’s starting amount of 16GB. They may also offer the smaller tablet with an older processor like the A5 or A5X (the same processor in the new iPad), a weaker 5-megapixel camera than found in the iPod and iPhone and no Retina display. Then perhaps they can price this tablet at $250, but if I were a betting man, I’d say Apple will price this thing at $350. Why? Because that price point puts the iPad Mini in between the iPod Touch ($299) and the iPad 2′s ($399) price tag.
As with all rumors, enjoy them, but also don’t be surprised if any of this turns out to be false, either way, we’ll find out if this whole thing is fake or not come next week.