Why Apple Should Release A Mini iPad [Opinion]

Apple iPad   Why Apple Should Release A Mini iPad [Opinion]There have been numerous rumors of late concerning Apple’s plans to release a smaller version of the iPad. In fact, there have been similar rumors ever since Steve Jobs first stood on stage and unveiled the original iPad. And yet Apple is still not ready to talk about this product that may or may not be in the pipeline.

Apple founder Steve Jobs, now sadly departed, is known to have not been a fan of 7-inch tablets. He believed 9.85-inches was the premium size for a tablet – small enough to be portable, large enough to be usable – and Apple has so far stuck to his grand plan for the form factor. But I think different(ly); I believe now is the time for Apple to release a Mini iPad. If they do I may even buy one myself.

Mini iPad

Mini iPad   Why Apple Should Release A Mini iPad [Opinion]
 

The Mini iPad featured in most of the rumors would feature a screen measuring around 7-inches, boast 8GB of storage, and a Retina Display the same as the full-sized iPad 3. In fact, apart from the smaller size and less storage the Mini iPad could be identical to the new iPad in every conceivable way. Except price, which would likely be pitched between $200 and $250.

What follows are the reasons I believe Apple should release a Mini iPad, and soon.

Different Needs

Different People   Why Apple Should Release A Mini iPad [Opinion]
 

It may surprise some to learn that not everyone has the same needs when it comes to a tablet. Apple has so far displayed an unwillingness to accept this fact, dictating the terms of ownership to its customers. The attitude seems to be, “We think tablets should be 9.85-inches and only 9.85-inches, so take it or leave it.”

While the 10-inch tablet form is superior in some ways – consuming video content, playing games, writing on the virtual keyboard – the 7-inch form is superior in others – reading eBooks, added portability, can be used with one hand. The fact is that tablets aren’t one-size-fits-all, and Apple should be catering to people with needs different from those the current iPad copes with admirably. Releasing a Mini iPad would go some way to achieving that.

Lower Price

Dollar Bills and Coins   Why Apple Should Release A Mini iPad [Opinion]
 

As well as enabling Apple to cater to more people, reducing the size of the iPad would also mean reducing the cost of the components and consequently the price paid by consumers. The new iPad starts at $499, which is too expensive for a lot of people’s budgets. If the Mini iPad was priced at around the $200 mark it would bring it in to more people’s field of vision as a device that is affordable.

Tablets are a strange breed of device in that they’re not indispensable in any way. While most of us need a laptop and a phone, we could live without our tablets. This makes pricing crucial. You may gamble on something costing $100 but you likely won’t on something costing $600. Even those who aren’t sure how often they would use a tablet could be tempted by the Mini iPad.

New Consumers

iPad Queues   Why Apple Should Release A Mini iPad [Opinion]
 

Releasing a smaller, cheaper version of the iPad would bring new consumers in to the Apple fold. People who eye the current iPad with desire but cannot justify the cost, or who have tried out different sizes of tablets and concluded that the current iPad is just too large for their individual needs.

The Apple ecosystem is such that customers who buy one Apple product tend to buy more. Tempting people in with a $200 iPad would inevitably lead to them installing iTunes and buying content. It could also lead to them buying a full-sized iPad, an iPhone, or even a Mac. Which would all add to Apple’s burgeoning coffers and justify selling a Mini iPad.

Killing Competition

Kindle Fire   Why Apple Should Release A Mini iPad [Opinion]
 

Last but not least, Apple could, at a stroke, kill, or at least severely injure, the competition.

There are a host of tablets other than the iPad out on the market. Unfortunately many people adopt the blinkered approach and head straight to their nearest Apple Store. However, Android tablets are growing in popularity, especially as the prices drop and the hardware and OS improve. Even cheap, generic Android tablets are now very capable.

Then there is the prospect of a Nexus tablet on the horizon, with Google expected to add the form factor to its line-up of flagship Android devices by the end of this year. And Windows 8 tablets (and hybrids) which, although some are already mocking, could prove to be popular with folks who still prefer Windows over any other operating system.

If Apple were to release a Mini iPad at a bargain price it would eat into existing Android tablet sales and suck the air out of the launches of both the Google Nexus tablet and devices running Windows 8. On the other hand, if Apple does nothing but offer incremental iPad upgrades for the next few years it could find itself with some serious competition in the market it has so far dominated.

Conclusions

Would I, as the new owner of a 7-inch Android tablet, be interested in a Mini iPad? I hate to admit it, especially at the risk of being stoned by fellow Android advocates, but I would at least be tempted. If, of course, the price was right. While I see no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on a full-sized iPad, I could see me using a smaller, cheaper iPad. If only to have access to some of the iOS-only apps.

Do you believe the time is ripe for Apple to release a Mini iPad? Would you consider buying one if they did? As always we’re keen to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Opinion is free, discussion is good, debate is healthy.

Image Credits: Michael Ocampo, Yogendra Joshi, Brian Gurrola, Whatleydude, Zhao!

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16 Comments -

0 votes

kurt

I’d buy one. I find no use for another screen close to that of my Laptop to carry around. My wife has an iPad, and although I enjoy using for apps like flipboard, hulu and netflix, I have no desire to carry that as well as the laptop I NEED to carry. I can do everything with my iPhone and my Laptop. A 7″ ipad fills the gap for when I don’t feel like firing up the laptop and when I don’t want to squint to watch something or read something on my iPhone (I don’t even bother with flipboard on the iPhone, much prefer the experience on the iPad),

0 votes

Dave Parrack

You have it spot-on, Kurt. The 7-inch form factor is a much better fit for the gap between smartphone and laptop than the 10-inch form factor.

0 votes

Laga Mahesa

I have three iPhones (3Gs which I keep because I have the SHSH for every release since 3.0, a 4 used by my mom and my 4s) and an iPad 2.

Were Apple to release a 7 inch iPad, I’d get it – provided the RAM wasn’t limited to just 8. Why? I like to watch TV episodes whilst on the go, and actually find the iPad a bit too large to hold comfortably – you need to prop it up somewhere. I bought the 64 Gb WIFI version, but 32 would have been more than plenty. I’d say 16 Gb would be ideal at this size.

0 votes

Matt Smith

Oh my god, Dave, something we agree on! Personally I have never found the 10″ format great on either iPads or Android tablets. It’s a bit easier to handle with the iPad because of its 4:3 format, but still unwieldy.

When I’ve reviewed 7″ tablets in the past, I’ve always found them better for my personal use of such a device, which is mainly light web browsing when I don’t feel like sitting in front of my PC.

With that said, I don’t know if Apple will release a 7″ tablet soon. If they do, it will point to a change in the company’s character.

0 votes

Dave Parrack

It’s a rare occurrence indeed, Matt ;)

That could be a reason to do this though, with Cook stamping his authority on the company.

0 votes

Doc

I seriously dislike Apple’s products, from the Mac to the iPhone, iPod and iPad. The lack of SD slots on iOS devices and the “walled garden” approach to software are seriously detrimental to any use I would make of the devices, and the Mac App Store is going to turn the Mac into the same type of “closed” device.

Any cellphone or tablet I would get would be an Android device. I purchased a 7″ Android tablet for $100 on Black Friday as a “starter” device, and despite its flaws (MIPS CPU – more than 50% of apps won’t run on it, as it lacks an ARM CPU for “native” apps), it is more than adequate as an E-Reader and portable Web browser. A similar iOS device would have cost me upwards of $300.

0 votes

mr

I have a small android tablet because I usually read on the go. I would have bought the Ipad, but it’s just too big and not portable at all.

0 votes

Dave Parrack

I’d say the iPad as it is is much more useful at home. A mini would be better for on the road.

0 votes

Scott Sanders

I would totally buy a 7-inch iPad Mini. I am a long-time owner and lover of iPad. I’ve owned both iPad1 and iPad2, but I recently made the switch to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 because of its sign and form-factor. iPad got too big for me to tote around all the time. I love my Galaxy Tab because of its size and better convenience, but I’d gladly get an iPad Mini if it existed.

0 votes

Dave Parrack

I take it you prefer iOS to Android then?

0 votes

Scott Sanders

No, not exactly. I’m a tech enthusiast and not loyal to any one platform because I think “fanboyism” is absurd. I love iOS for tablets but also really enjoy ICS. My smartphone platform of choice is actually Android, but I’ve had iPads since the iPad1. I just go with whatever suits me best. Sometimes that might be iOS and sometimes that might be Android. I think they’re both great and should both be recognized for their respective strengths.

0 votes

Dave Parrack

Thank God there are still people like you out there. Fanboyism IS absurd, every device should be regarded individually and not judged on the company that made it.

0 votes

muotechguy

I’m not against a 7″ iPad in theory; it makes sense to have one for every taste, to sell more. the only issue there is with regards to developing apps. things are fairly simple right now even with retina graphics; compared to the hundreds of crappy Android tablets that fragment the market, app developers have complained about that for a long time. If Apple were to release a 7″ one, it would have to be capable of scaling down ipad 3 retina graphics or something; like half of the ipad 3 resolution maybe? So it might end up slightly less ‘retinal’ than the new iPad, I suspect. Either way, I dont think they would add yet another target device to the development profile. That’s the only viable argument I can see; Job’s opinion doesn’t really count for much now he’s gone, if Cook sees an opportunity for 7″ iPads that won’t mess with the dev cycle, he would certainly go for it.

0 votes

Dave Parrack

I do think Cook is keen to do his own thing. Releasing a 7-inch iPad would be a good indicator of that. I’m sure Apple would make sure the size was just right for apps to work on both models.

0 votes

Steep

However, I think a lot of consumers already own an iPad(2 or 3 which is worth to have) base on reviews. I’m not certain of which population the world had owns an iPad already but literally, if a new version was to be retailed which is a slight minimization of the latter predecessors, then it won’t be entertaining for those who already have the current iPads. It won’t probably make a profit at all to the company unless they’ll cut off the price to compete with the Google Nexus 7. Even so, iPod touch already exists which is likely more expensive than the Nexus 7 if we deliberate memory size issues. Unless Apple will quit on the iPod touch. But iPod touch 5th generation is already on plans.

0 votes

Anna Lynn Sanders

iPad mini is basically the same as a giant itouch.