It is seeming more and more certain that Apple has an iPad Mini hidden in their back pockets for us. Assuming they do, will the smaller form-factor tablet mimic the tremendous and market-dominating success currently enjoyed by the iPad… or is it the biggest mistake that Apple has made since the Macintosh Performa?
To estimate the success of the iPad Mini we have to first consider who may be buying it. With the expectation that a smaller iPad would also carry a smaller price-tag, some are speculating that this new device will be seen as the bargain tablet offering from Apple. While that reality may appeal to some buyers, overwhelmingly sales results show us that people who wanted to buy iPads went out and bought iPads.
Instead, I believe that many of the consumers looking to buy the iPad Mini are already brand-loyal to Apple and their products. They are probably iPhone owners. Chances are good that a lot of them are already iPad owners. They have made an investment into Apps. They know how easy the interface is to use.
It may be true that a lower price is an added incentive for these consumers, but more-so because it affords them the opportunity to outfit their entire family with an Apple tablet. That is one place where the iPad Mini will really excel. Not so much as the alternative to an Android tablet or a Windows tablet, but as the family’s tablet. Easier for children to handle in their smaller grips and easier for parents to pay for. These people weren’t necessarily planning to buy other tablets. They haven’t been readying themselves to grab the first cheaper option.
Of course, many of these people will pick one up for themselves at the same time –giving them a second iPad. While some will just enjoy the chance to have another tech toy, there is a practical reason to own one: weight. The argument has been made time and again that the screen size on the current iPad is ideal for most any task –reading books and magazines, surfing the web or even doing a little word processing. With that logic, a 7″ screen would be too small for those activities. Well anybody who has picked up an old-school Kindle or Kobo reader can tell you the reason to grab a smaller iPad: weight. The iPad may not be heavy, but it’s not exactly light either (and I’ll be anything that the battery life will be a lot more impressive as well).
This lighter weight, smaller form-factor iPad will become a supporting player for many of us. The iPad that syncs with all of our apps, that gives us a familiar interface and access to our calendars and email and contacts while fitting in our purse or being easier to hold in the palms of our hands or tote around school all day.
Above all else, you can trust that Apple has done their research. With the tremendous profit being made with their current iPad line-up, it would seem unlikely that they want to risk that with the release of a new product. If Apple felt they were going to compete with themselves, they wouldn’t launch another device. The other thing you can trust is that if they do launch an iPad Mini that they will have additional incentives to go along with it– like apps designed to take good advantage of the smaller screen size.