Calling it the “Nexus Nightmare,” Bloomberg reports today that Apple actually is going to release the long-rumored iPad Mini, a 7.85-inch device that is a cousin of the 9.7-inch full size iPad. Bloomberg said we can expect it before Christmas.
Pricing rumors have been rampant with most people settling on somewhere between $199 and $299. At either end, or in the middle, a smaller and cheaper iPad would pose problems for its tablet competition. Many companies appear to be ceding the larger and more expensive tablet market to iPad and focusing on smaller cheaper options. Of course, Microsoft has some full size tablets on the way, with its new Surface brand, to challenge Apple at the high end.
But right now, Google and Amazon are focusing on the low end. Google has its new Nexus 7. Amazon, of course, is pimping its 7-inch Kindle Fire. Even Barnes & Noble has its Nook tablet. All of them are at least half of what the new iPad costs ($499 in its cheapest config, while the 2011 version goes for $399).
Steve Jobs has famously said no one wanted a 7-inch tablet and a 7-inch tablet just wouldn’t work, but if enough customers are choosing 7-inch tablets with their wallet — even if they really wanted a more expensive iPad and couldn’t afford it — Apple would be wise to give them something to want. Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon are all interested in locking customers up with long term deals with their “ecosystems.” Meaning, if you’re an Apple guy, you visit the App Store and iTunes to get your apps and music.
If you want to grab a competing tablet, you can’t port hardly any of that stuff over to the new device, and vice versa. That hook tends to prevent people from switching.
The iPad mini, Bloomberg says, could be released in time for the holidays and announced in October, probably around the time Apple CEO Tim Cook hits the stage to show us the new iPhone. So could the Mini be the new “And One More Thing”? Apple, particularly Jobs, was infamous for saving a really good nugget for the end of his presentations to introduce new products and starting out with that line, a technology “encore” if you will.
Now, for the cheaper price, the new iPad Mini likely won’t sport the sharp retina display found in the 9.7 version. But if it can do everything else the iPad can do, it will spark sales for Apple, we’re guessing, while at the same time steal some from the full size iPad. That’s the catch 22.
But we know scores of people who want an iPad but who can’t part with $500 or more to get one. So while Apple may lose a few folks who would buy a full size iPad and will choose the smaller, cheaper version, we’re guessing they will cover those holes with folks who couldn’t afford the $500 iPad but wanted one desperately. So if Apple can somehow deliver an iPad mini with cameras and 4G, well, Google and Amazon will face some real competition in a space they probably hoped to dominate and gain traction in for a good while.
Of course, we never really know what Apple’s gonna do until Apple does it, but here’s hoping for an iPad Mini, for a little choice, as well as them keeping the current size iPhone (with new guts) as well as a larger model this fall.