The iPad Mini isn't even here yet, and already its future looks murky. BYTE's Dino Londis gives his Magic 8-Ball a shake and divines the answers.
Oh, Magic 8-Ball, will the iPad Mini sell as fast as the iPad?
Cannot predict now.
Well, did I really expect it to say anything else? Nobody would make a lot of money betting against Steve Jobs and Apple. Jobs said no smaller version of the iPad would work, making a pretty good argument against it. I don't think Jobs was trying to misdirect competitors when he said a 7-inch tablet would be too small. He genuinely believed that anything smaller than 9 inches wouldn't sell. But he watched Amazon and Barnes and Noble prove him wrong. So if there a mini iPad on the way--and all signs point to yes-- then Apple might have another hit on its hands.
Yet there are some compelling reasons why the smaller iPad will not be a breakout product for Apple.
For starters, it's not different enough. It's a smaller, cheaper version of the iPad. I predict the Mini will offer few surprises and no "wow". We've already seen the magic, and on a larger scale.
The iPad created a market where there wasn't one. The Mini won't do that. In fact it's a late entrant to an already crowded market of Nook Colors, Amazon Kindles, and Galaxy Tabs that have already defined the product category.
"Can the iPad Mini best the Microsoft Surface?" Reply hazy. Try Again.
Unless the Mini arrives with a detachable magnetic keyboard, track-pad and a kickstand, the Microsoft Surface could steal a significant portion of the Mini's sales. Both are scheduled to drop at approximately the same time and both might be the same $299. So why would the average consumer buy a smaller tablet when they can buy a Surface, a hybrid laptop-tablet, for the same price?
"Is Apple cannibalizing itself?" Concentrate and ask again.
Even if consumers pick Apple over Android and Microsoft, they will now have four iOS tablets to choose from: the Mini, The iPod Touch 5 starting at $299, the iPad 2 starting at $399, and the iPad Retina starting at $499.
There is no price for the Mini that doesn't affect sales iPod or iPad 2.
Finally, "will Apple name it the iPad Mini?" My sources say no.
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