The already highly popular iPad Mini is proving to be a top seller, even before being announced by Apple. Everyone is looking to the Cupertino company to release a smaller version of their market crushing iPad this Fall alongside the release of the next-generation iPhone. We have heard September 12 for the event, but it seems the tiny iPad will be announced in October. Previous September events have been the home of iPod refreshes, always being dubbed the “Music” event. Apple shook things up in 2011 when they pushed the iPhone release back to October, completely forgetting about the struggling iPod hardware.
According to sources of iMore and AllThingsD, Apple is again changing up their events and providing us with an LTE packed iPhone as well as an iPod refresh in September, while giving the iPad Mini it’s own event this October, along with the rumored iPad 3 update with smaller dock connector. With the latest “confirmed” rumor at AllThingsD showing a separate even in October, iMore’s sources could possibly be wrong. But, AllThingsD’s sources might also be wrong. Nothing is set in stone until after the event ends and we’re all left drooling over the live blogs we might follow.
Until the dates in September and October pass, who knows what we’ll see. Who knows what shiny new product draped with an Apple Logo will be filling our pockets and getting all mucked up by our fingers. But if you read below, you’ll see what I am hoping for, and how I can’t lean towards all the hype of the smaller iPad supposedly being released this year.
During an earnings call back in 2010, then CEO Steve Job’s gave us a look into his feelings of a 7″ tablet:
“7-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad.” Moving on to saying that competing manufacturers were struggling to meet the price point of the iPad, which starts at $500. The 7″ tablets about to be released were going to be “dead on arrival.”
This has be proven true, not one manufacturer to date has even come close to rivaling the iPad, 3 years running. YTD 2012, the iPad holds a 64.4% market share for tablets, in a distant second is Samsung at 9.9% with Amazon even further behind at 4.9%. Obviously Apple is dominating, and always has been. Samsung has fallen from over 10% they held in the first-quarter. Things aren’t looking too good for any manufacturer out there – except for Apple.
With the release of the Kindle Fire from Amazon back in October 2011, Amazon has done a great job at capturing a market for a smaller entry-level price point. Google was able to start their climb with the Nexus 7 only a short time ago. Obviously there is a market for the 7″ size tablet. Well, could it be a market for an entry-level tablet? I’m leaning towards the market on a cheaper price point. With sales of the Samsung Galaxy Note being somewhat of a success with 10 million units sold World-Wide, would those same customers want a device only 1.5″ bigger? Are all of the Android users sporting 4.3″ and bigger screens really want a 2-inch upgrade between phone and tablet?
With the release of the new iPad, Apple was able to drop the price of the iPad 2, and continue to sell the device along side the new iPad, as they do with the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 currently. Sales for both of these devices, while not being as high as the 4S or as they were when initially launched, people jumped at the chance to own such a great device, no matter the age. And this is where I think Apple should go, move towards dropping the price point, not creating a brand new device.
By creating a 7-inch tablet, Apple will be fighting for second place. Does anyone remember when rumors were floating around of the iPhone Nano? You might, or you might not, but if you do, you’ll know that it died quickly. Creating an entire new device to compete with entry-level devices is absurd. I know that an iPad Mini is completely different than an iPhone Nano, but it’s close to the point I am trying to make.
Why devote so much time, energy, and resources just to compete with 2nd place. And not even a close rivaling 2nd place, a very distant score that is held by Samsung. The Nexus 7 is currently dominating the small tablet share, do they even hold a candle with competing against Apple’s current offering? Will Google bypass everything the Kindle Fire has done over the past year and leap across the gigantic playing field Apple has placed between itself and it’s competition?
Rumors are flying around as Amazon has sent out a press invite for a September 6th event. A week ahead of the ‘not-yet-to-be-confirmed’ Apple event, Amazon is possibly sending another blow to whatever Apple has in store for us. The Kindle Fire 2 being announced might give Amazon an extra boost to compete with the Nexus 7. But remember, we aren’t competing with the iPad any longer. Manufacturers know that their 7-inch device isn’t going to compete with the new iPad. Sure, the Nexus 7 was compared to the iPad, but in reality, a comparison with the Kindle Fire or even a Galaxy Tab 7″ makes more sense.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 was just released, something that actually might rival the iPad, has had some so-so reviews. And that is the normal consensus behind any tablet to date, it is compared to the iPad, and then thrown aside. My point being that Apple rules the tablet market. They do, and there isn’t anyone that can really argue that.
This brings me back to the iPad Mini, is this a device that needs to be released? Is the reason you don’t own an iPad now because of the size, or the price point? Would you rather spend $250 on a current-sized iPad or $200 on a 7″ version? A lot of decisions might be made because there isn’t a 7″ iPad to date. It isn’t something we have to ogle over – yet. We all love to be surprised and blown away by Apple, so the thought of a device that doesn’t exist yet – except for all the “leaked” parts and cases – intrigues us. We lust after what we can’t have.
We all know that Apple really doesn’t cater to the public. If that were true, we would of had copy-and-paste a lot sooner than we did. We would of seen a larger iPhone screen, or an iPod with 3G capabilities, or even a touch screen MacBook. Whatever the case may be in the past, Apple doesn’t base every design and product on the public. Why start with a 7″ tablet? Why compete for a distant second place. Why not continue the trend they have set with their phone hardware, once we see the next-generation iPad, make the iPad 2 a <$200 price point, then dropping the no-longer-new-iPad to a $399 price point, or possibly lower. Why take the resources away from innovation to compete with a non-stellar 7" market.
I know that Apple has an iPod line that started at one size, and then has changed drastically, all while creating smaller and more compact devices. There are different sizes in the MacBook Family, so why not do the same for the iPad. Why not create a smaller brother to give people more choice. I get this, I know it helps the case of a smaller iPad. I just don't want to believe it. Will there even still be a 7" tablet market as smartphones continue to grow in screen size? What is the point of a 4.5" phone and a 7" tablet?
I know in a month or two, I will be proven wrong. But I’ll sink my teeth deep into my foot then. I’ll wait until Apple says so. A monopoly in the tablet market might be where Apple is heading. It might make other manufacturers innovate and create products that blow Apple out of the water. Maybe we do need to see Apple compete in a market they have already dominated, just like we need to see other manufacturers compete in a market where they’ve been crushed. September will come around, and we’ll see what Apple has in store for our pockets, and then October will show It’s face and we’ll possibly be given something for our hands. Who knows, well, every site around has their sources who know for sure. I’m just some guy sitting behind a screen.
Thanks for allowing me to rant uncontrollably at your eyes. I hope I am right, but I do hope I am wrong. I’d like to see a gorgeous miniature iPad. I would never own one though, the iPad as it stands is plenty portable for me. I can pull it out anywhere and hold it with one hand or two hands. I don’t have an issue with the size like others do. That is my personal opinion. Whatever it may be called, the iPad Mini being the latest confirmed name, it’ll most likely be released and crush any competition. Apple hasn’t really flopped at any release in quite some time, so this will just add to their massive mound of cash. Who knows, with the recent ruling against Samsung, manufacturers might even have to charge more for their 7″ tablets because of any patents they might be infringing on. Then we’ll see Apple completely dominate the entire market with a 99.99% market share.
How do you really feel about a 7″ iPad? Are you only excited because it is something we don’t have? Or is that the right size for you? If the iPhone’s screen grows even further past the rumored 4″ next-gen release, will that 7″ iDevice still feel good in your hands? Who knows, it be just be an iPod Largererr (you heard it here first!). We’ll just have to wait and see…