As we suggested over four months ago, Apple today announced the iPad Mini family. With a screen size of 7.9 inches, 7.2mm thick, 0.68lbs in weight, it is as thin as a pencil and easy to hold in one hand. A quick spec list is; Dual Core A5 processor, 1024 x 768 (same pixel count as iPad2), FaceTime HD camera, 5MP iSight camera on the back, LTE in the cellular versions, Lightning connectors and 10 hours battery life.
The configurations are much the same as all the earlier versions, starting with a 16GB Wi-Fi only version for $329 and $459 for the cellular version, and then running at $100 increments through 32GB and 64GB. The Wi-Fi versions start shipping on November 2nd and the cellular versions about two weeks later.
So, apart from the price being maybe $30 higher than we first anticipated, there are no real surprises, and these devices have long been factored into our forecasts.
The big question now, of course, is how consumers will make purchase decisions on the current range of hot 7 inch tablets; these include the Google Nexus 7 ($199 for 16GB), the Kindle Fire family (7 inch Fire HD at $199, 8.9 inch Fire HD $299), the B&N Nook HD 16GB at $229). All these devices will be available in November; each has both its strengths and its weaknesses. To those who study the purchase, the ecosystem will be important ? should I go for an iPad app device (275,000 available) or, should I go for a newer technology where there are less apps, or some of the apps were designed for phones, or should I not worry about apps and content at all and just save $100 or so? What about size, the 7 inch device is neat and fits in my jacket pocket, but I get a lot more screen real estate (approximately 35%) on a 7.9 inch, important when it comes to surfing and so on, even if it will not fit in my pocket?
It is perhaps a pity that the other tablets did not have an iPad Mini free run, so that they could get established. As it is, yes they will all sell some, their aggressive pricing will definitely appeal to budget restricted buyers and ensure that they do get some market traction, but given that the market leader, who has already sold 100 million iPads, has now entered the 7 inch arena, the bar has been raised again for Google, Amazon and B&N.