Another day, another rumor about the 7-inch Apple iPad Mini, this time from the Mac blog iMore, which quotes unnamed sources as saying Apple is going to release the device in October, at an ultra-low price point somewhere between $200-$250. That would put the device in direct competition with Amazons 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet, which is priced at $199 and runs Google's Android operating system. The new iPad, released in March, starts at $499 but offers a high-resolution Retina display and several other premium features.
The latest report is the latest in a long line of rumors regarding a smaller version of the popular iPad, which has revived and dominated the tablet market since its first incarnation. A recent survey from Pricegrabber suggests that though Apple has shown no official interest in building a 7-inch iPad (Steve Jobs was famously dismissive of the idea), consumers are quite interested in buying one.
Slightly more than half (52 percent) of the survey respondents said they would consider purchasing an iPad Mini for approximately $250 to $300, likely making the rumored lower price point even more enticing. Indeed, 64 percent of those surveyed said a price point lower than that on the new iPad or iPad 2 would be a top consideration, followed by those who wanted a smaller, more portable size (54 percent).
Micahel Oh, CEO and founder of Apple care specialist TechSuperpowers, remains skeptical about the device, citing analysis about the Kindle Fire. He says Amazon is probably breaking even or even losing money on the product, because Amazons play is to nail the 7-inch tablet market before anyone else does, and make its money on the ecosystem. Oh says if Apple was going to chase that space, the logic would be the same.
They would be doing it to nail as much of that market before anyone else was out there. Its a very opportunistic play, and I dont really see Apple doing that. Its a very non-Apple move, but they can afford to do a play like that to acquire market share, he explains. The real downside is, it takes away from the perception that they make premium devices. There would be no Retina display, a standard resolution camera, middle-of-the-road processing power. There would be a lot of sacrifices Apple would have to make in order to engineer the device. Thats why I dont think theyre ultimately going to do it.
Oh says that due to the companys massive popularity and staggering wealthApple has more cash on hand than the U.S. governmentthis is a critical point for Apple. If they did decide to go down this road, a lot of people would buy the stock, but in my opinion, thats when you sell. Thats when theyre starting to become a commodity manufacturer, he says. Theyve always avoided [becoming that] with everything that they do. It would show a really different turn for Apple as an organization and I think it would destroy the perception that theyve built. I dont see that as being at all their brand strategy.