Cue the Armageddon music, Tim Cook’s California company is doomed!
Lines for the iPad mini opening day were, well, mini! Apple stock is down more than 20 percent! The sky is falling!
Before you bounce around to any more sites talking about the demise of Apple, a few thoughts: Apple sales have dipped. Samsung overtook iPhone in phone sales last quarter as the excellent Galaxy SIII become the world’s top selling smartphone. Apple’s lead in tablet sales shrunk. Then, Apple lost a few lawsuits and had a major executive shakeup, letting go of Scott Forstall, the guy who oversaw the iOS operating system.
Wall Street is noticing. Then the iPad Mini released earlier this month at $329 and since that was well above the competition, at least $80 bucks more in the 7-inch space, well, Apple had to be taking some missteps, right?
We won’t begin to tell you anything about stocks or Wall Street except they are volatile. We do know that Apple is still sitting on a ton of cash, with zero debt and has a list of products that are still the envy of the tech industry. As good as the Samsung Galaxy SIII is and the Nexus phone might be, the iPhone 5 is still king of the smartphone. Your grandma in Philly knows what you’re talking about when you say iPhone. Ask her about Nexus 7 and she’ll ask you where can she buy tickets to see that movie.
Android has caught up to iOS in polish and “do-ability” but it hasn’t caught up to it in brand awareness.
Also we have to think people cooled on buying new iPads and iPhones because, despite Tim Cook’s efforts to the contrary, there was a lot of readily available information on new iPads and iPhones and even accurate enough dates on when to expect them.
So folks waited. Sales dipped.
Is Apple in any real long term trouble? Let’s check sales from the third quarter when all these new iDevices and Macs are in the wild. That will tell the real tale.
Now back to the iPad Mini. It’s what you heard it was: an iPad, only smaller.
It’s fast. It’s got some great sounding speakers that are true stereo speakers. The upgrade from our iPad 2 was quite noticeable.
And iPad Mini is light. You pick up iPad 4 (or 3 or 2) after you pick up Mini and iPad feels like a brick, albeit a brick with a really clear screen, in the case of the iPad 3 and 4.
For most people, this new near 8-inch iPad fits easily in one hand, is light enough to hold for long periods and is perfect for consumption. We’re interested to see devices like the 9-inch Zagg keyboard for it to see how it feels, but this is just about a more perfect iPad than the larger one. It’s easier to bring with you and we find we just use it — more.
It’s not as nice to look at because it has a smaller screen and keys and icons are smaller, but it’s really more of a perception issue. It’s like when you got the iPhone 5 for the first time, it looked weird, right? Then after a few weeks, iPhone 4S looked kinda square and, well, weird.
Same with Mini. In the first few days, the screen looked odd. After awhile, it looked perfect. Compared to other 7-inch tablets in the market, the hardware Apple has put together is simply superior. Software wise, as good as Nexus 7 is and Nexus Fire is (so long as you stick to the Amazon universe), neither device comes close to offering the app experience that the Mini does. It can run more than 700,000 apps, many designed especially for the tablet.
In some ways, though, we can see customers buying a Mini and keeping their 10-inch iPad. The bigger iPad is really good for looking at videos, putting on a stand and typing and doing some — yes, Virginia — real-life content creation. The Mini is just built to read books and magazines and lay back on the sofa and enjoy it. If it can stand in with a keyboard as we said earlier, well, it’s bye-bye 10-incher for us.
Our hope now is that Apple extends the Mini idea. Well, actually we have two hopes:
1. Hope No. 1: Apple doesn’t wait a year to update the Mini. The one large complaint about the device is price. Apple normally discounts the existing hardware by $100, at least when it comes to phones. iPhone 5 comes out at $199 minimum with contract, and iPhone 4S dips to $99. Using this same logic, would iPad Mini 2 debut in March at $329 and the existing Mini dip to $229? Better yet, how about the new Mini coming in at $299 and the old one at $199? The competition would love that, right?
2. Hope No. 2: It would make a lot of sense, if technology allows, for Apple to stick the two things on Mini that it needs to be perfect: a retina display to match the larger iPad and the A6 processor in iPhone 5 or the A6 in iPad 4. The display on iPad Mini is OK, but it’s a far cry from retina, and once you’ve seen retina it’s hard to look at other stuff. This isn’t enough of a distraction to prevent us from buying the device now, but this would create a clear upgrade path when a retina Mini debuted. If at all possible, Apple shouldn’t make us wait.
And one final thought about Mini sales. Apple sold three million iPads and iPad Minis in the first 72 hours after they went on sale. That’s not bad. And remember, the cellular versions were not available. We have to think those mini lines folks were writing about might have been a little less mini if the 4G/LTE iPads were also ready at launch.
After a week with the device, we’ve decided to take the plunge and purchase one for our uses, but we’re waiting — like many — for the 4G version.