iPad Mini Validates 7-Inch Tablet Market Despite Apple's High Prices

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-10-24 Print this article Print

But Amazon also wins when people use Amazon’s Kindle app to buy Amazon content, which a lot of people will do, if only because the Kindle software is more flexible, and because users can share the same content across a wide variety of devices from smartphones to desktop computers. You can share Apple’s iBooks content with other iOS devices. But there’s no iBooks app for Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone and probably not for the new Surface tablet, which Microsoft will ship before the iPad Mini.

For its part, Apple has also announced a new version of iBooks that’s designed to siphon some readers from Amazon. But iBooks still just runs on iOS, so despite the fact that it looks like a nice app, it’s also at a competitive disadvantage. However, Apple is also going full tilt at the education market and as a result will offer a lot of textbooks as part of the iBooks library. The iPad Mini will probably appeal to the education market if only because it’s a lot cheaper than the fourth-generation iPad.

That fourth-generation iPad is an upgrade to the third generation iPad that was announced in March 2012. It has a faster processor, a better screen, faster WiFi and expanded LTE capabilities. It will replace the third-generation iPad in the lineup, and it will cost the same. The iPad 2 will continue to be available.

So what will consumers do? The iPad Mini looks hard to beat. Despite its high price, the Mini offers a lot and while it’s a better tablet than the iPad 2, it’s not a fourth-generation iPad in a smaller version. Apple has created a new version of the form factor with an aluminum case that allows very thin bezels, resulting in a larger screen than other tablets in the 7-inch market. The device itself is also a lot thinner than most and it’s light. The case allows Apple to deliver a tablet weighing 0.68 pounds that’s 7.9 millimeters thick. But it still has that 1024 x 768 resolution from the iPad 2, although with a smaller screen it looks better.

On the other hand, the Kindle Fire HD has a better screen, Amazon has a full application and content ecosystem similar to (but not as large as) Apple’s. And it costs $140 less. It’s going to be tough to choose. But in the meantime, Apple’s entry into this part of the market has added a level of legitimacy that it needed. Apple, as a result, may be the rising tide that lifts all boats.


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