As anticipated, Apple announced the much-rumoured iPad Mini in a press conference on Tuesday in San Jose, CA. Measuring 7.9″ diagonally, the new tablet is just slightly larger than Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Google’s Nexus 7 and several other Android-based models that have preceded the Mini by as much as a year. Former CEO Steve Jobs was known for his contempt of the 7″ form-factor, but as Apple’s dominance of the tablet space has eroded over the past year, the Cupertino technology company has decided to field a 7″ horse in the race in an attempt to regain some lost ground. Wall Street, however voted its ambivalence to the move by selling off Apple shares moments after the announcement, dropping shares by as much as $20 in the days trading, citing the Mini as evidence that Apple has lost sight of what people really want, which is less choices, not more. Shareholders may have also been disgruntled by the announcement of a new revision of the latest iPad model featuring the new, compact data connector and a faster processor, “obsoleting” it’s 3rd generation iPad after only 7 months.
What this means for you:
If you’ve held out this long on buying an iPad, it probably wasn’t because it was “too big.” Most folks who did think the 10″ iPad was too big have already bought a 7″ Kindle, Fire or Android-based tablet and are more than likely firmly embedded in that devices ecosystem. Many tech-heavy households are also likely to have an iPad as well, so adding another tablet to the mix is probably not in the cards for the majority of consumers. Corporate buyers who were already reluctant to invest in iPads aren’t any more likely to buy a 7″ version, and instead will be watching the arrival of Microsoft’s Surface tablet very closely, as should you if you’ve not already made your tablet investment. If, somehow, you’ve managed to not buy any sort of tablet device, and find your smartphone is just a bit too small for reading or casual video watching, the iPad Mini may be a gentle gateway into the world of tablet computing. The 7″ form-factor is very portable and bag friendly, and big enough for personal entertainment, especially in crowded places such as planes, buses and the backseats of cars. Keep in mind: if you are used to the weight of the black and white Kindles that Apple’s new Mini is heavier, not only physically, but will also weigh twice as much on your wallet.
Numerous leaks on the internet have all but confirmed the imminent arrival of a 7-inch version of Apple’s wildly popular iPad. Expected to be announced on October 23, 2012, sightings around the internet put the new tablet starting at anywhere from $250 to $320 for a wifi-only version. Substantial rumors also point to a 3G/4G version as well, putting it an advantage over wifi-only, 7-inch Android-based tablets like Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire.
What this means for you:
If you are one of the few people on the planet that doesn’t already own an iPad, and don’t because of the size/weight of the current 10-inch tablet, the “iPad Mini” may be worth a look. However, 7-inch screens have many limitations when it comes to browsing the web and working in business applications – your screen real estate is literally half of what you can normally see on even the first generation iPad. Seven-inch tablets have found a very comfortable niche as e-readers, casual gaming devices, and fit remarkably well into over-stuffed carryons for frequent travelers. Expect some transition troubles for your popular iPad apps as they resize the display resolution for the 7-inch screen, and the possibility of paying for a new, “mini”-version of the same app you probably already own.