This morning, Apple became the most valuable company of all time as its stock soared because of the frenzy of iPad mini rumors and leaks that began surfacing last week. Apple shares hit a high of $664.74 today, giving Apple a market value of $623 billion.
Impressively enough, eight years ago, Apple hadn’t even hit a value of $10 billion. Three years ago, the company was only worth $100 billion. That incredible jump can be attributed to the ever popular iPhone, and the growing popularity of Apple’s iPad.
With these two devices selling like crazy, is there room for Apple to introduce a new product line? Do we, as consumers, want an iPad mini?
Just that quick look at Apple’s quickly rising stock prices reveals that yes, we Apple lovers do want a smaller version of Apple’s impossible to live without iPad.
People who have purchased iPhones and iPads, those of us who have been indoctrinated into Apple, will snap up the smaller tablet just because it exists.
In just the second quarter of 2012, Apple sold 11.8 million iPads and 35.1 million iPhones. Certainly not everyone who owns an iPad or an iPhone will buy a mini, but Apple has an enormous fan base.
If just a small fraction of Apple fans buy a smaller version of its tablet, the mini will outsell its competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Note, which just recently hit 10 million sales worldwide after being on the market for 10 months.
Of course, the iPad mini will have more robust competitors than the Note. Apple’s smaller tablet will compete with the Kindle Fire, the Nexus 7, the Nook tablet, and Microsoft’s upcoming tablet.
The Kindle Fire, though it has received quite a few lackluster reviews, has proven that consumers want a smaller, cheaper device. Amazon is notoriously tight lipped about sales numbers, consumers purchased 4.8 million of the devices in the first few months that it was available.
Google’s Nexus 7, priced at just $199, has also been selling well. Analyst estimates peg the device at six to eight million sales before the end of the year.
Unlike the Kindle Fire, Google’s tablet is no slouch. I’ve personally seen and used a Nexus 7 tablet, and let me tell you, that sucker is sleek, fast, and gorgeous. In short, it’s one amazing little device. Microsoft’s Surface is expected to be similarly robust and priced aggressively, rumored to be hitting that magic $199 price tag.
Unless Amazon releases a much improved Kindle Fire, I would expect both the Nexus 7 and the Surface to be the iPad mini’s main competition. Unfortunately, based on the rumors, while we can expect the mini to have impressive internals, it’s unlikely to be priced quite as competitively.
Current rumors have put a $299 price tag on the iPad mini, a full $100 more expensive than other options on the market. A higher price tag could potentially turn customers towards less expensive options like the Nexus 7, but based on the number of consumers who have purchased the iPad (more than 100,000), which is more expensive than other tablets on the market, it stands to reason that we are, as a society, generally accustomed to the “Apple Tax.”
Apple’s biggest iPad mini competition is likely to be its own iPad. I’ve heard many consumers state their interest in a smaller tablet, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the mini cannibalize a significant chunk of the iPad’s sales. The same goes for the iPod touch. Priced at $199, the touch is going to have a hard time competing with its big brother, the mini.
Essentially, the mini is an inevitable product, bridging the price gap between the $199 touch and the $499 iPad (or $350 for the iPad 2). If Apple releases a smaller tablet and it ends up having a sub $300 price tag (nothing is concrete yet), it will be all over for competing devices.
There’s definitely a market for smaller, more portable tablets. That’s been proven time and time again over the past year, despite Steve Jobs’ disdain for the smaller form factor.
And based on Apple’s unshakeable dominance in the tablet market, there’s undoubtedly a high demand for a smaller Apple-branded iPad mini. I’m guessing that when Apple releases such a tablet, consumers will be insatiable. Those mini tablets will fly off of store shelves, and as with all of Apple’s products, we will be amazed with the sales numbers.
So when might we see an iPad mini? Rumors have October pegged as the date, but more recently, there are hints floating about that Apple has a September iPhone event planned, which could mark the first appearance of the tiny tablet.
What’s your stance on the mini issue? Are you going to buy one? If you already have an iPad, will the mini replace it?