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Speculation on iPad Mini

2012-10-22 12:05:18

Apple is likely to announce the new, smaller "iPad Mini" tomorrow at a press event. Here are my last minute speculations on what it will be like.

I agree with all the conventional wisdom: 7.85" screen, 1024x768 display, lower than iPad price point.

There are two particular areas where there is a lot of different guesses, so I'll take a shot at those.

Device Name

Many guesses are out there, some seem obvious (iPad Mini), some are more create (iPad Air), and some are toungue-in-cheek (iPad Junior.)

My notion is that Apple will not give it a different name: just as they are not calling the newest iPad the iPad 3, they will not call this new iPad anything except "iPad." They will distinguish the models only by size. When you choose an iPad, you will be able to select a size (large or small), just as you do with a Macbook Pro or Macbook Air.

Why would they do this? Look at other things that Apple has given different names to:

- iPod vs. iPod Mini vs. iPod Nano
- iMac vs. Mac Mini
- Macbook vs. Macbook Air vs. Macbook Pro

When Apple adds a secondary product name, it is always when there is a different form factor. An iPod Nano is not just a miniature iPod. A MacBook Air is not just a different size of Macbook. They are a unique product with their own industrial design and are very different than their relatives in the hardware line.

With the smaller iPad, it is not going to be different in any meaningful way except for the size: the same apps will run, it will have the same buttons. It's exactly the same as the bigger iPad.

My backup guess is that they will be named by their screen sizes, but this seems awkward, because Apple would have to say 10" iPad and 8" iPad, which isn't really accurate, but 9.7" iPad and 7.85" iPad are just awkward. Also, what do they call iMac screen sizes in metric countries? Large and small seems cleaner.

Price Point

It seems to me that a huge target market for this iPad is kids: if you've ever seen a 7 year old carry a full sized iPad, you will probably agree that they would like a slightly smaller one. Also, if Apple ever hopes to make iPad a standard for education, these glass and metal devices have to get a lot cheaper. So I think they will be aggressive on price, to get iPads into many hands, while still maintaining a good profit margin. 

I assume that Apple could hit the $199 price point, since Amazon has done so, and Apple has bigger economies of scale than anybody. But I think they could also have just as big an impact with a $249 base price for a 16GB wifi model. If you are shopping for a tablet, and you see a $199 Nexus 7 that is sort of like an iPad, almost as good really it is, and a $249 actual iPad, which are you going to get?