Regarding Gruber's Pre-Event Thoughts on the 'iPad Mini'

Last week I wrote about my thoughts concerning the iPad Mini, speculating on whether it’ll have a Retina display, how much it’ll cost, and so on. Well, John Gruber wrote a similar article this week, so I figured I’d break down his analysis to see how it compares to mine. With Apple’s event just three days away, today’s a good time to post this.

To Retina or Not to Retina?

It seems that Gruber and I are in agreement that the smaller iPad won’t have a Retina Display. Gruber’s points about trade-offs and compromises are well taken, and I think the primary differentiator between the Mini and the iPad (3) will indeed be the lack of a Retina screen. The two models are effectively exactly the same1, save for size of course, so Apple has the draw the proverbial line in the sand somewhere. And as logical as the X-and-Y-have-it-so-Z-gets-it-too logic2, Gruber brings up a great point that I totally failed to consider in my first piece:

[E]ach new iOS mobile device has debuted with a non-retina display, and then gone retina two or three years later.

Point being that this 7.85-inch iPad won’t be Retina off the bat -- but it will be in the future.

(Full disclosure: When I read the above sentence for the first time, I seriously had a head-hits-desk-like-DUH moment.)

The Price Point

I bet on $249. Gruber mentions $249 as well, so it seems we’re in the same ballpark here.

That said, I like this bit of logic from Gruber:

It’s true that smaller generally implies cheaper, but miniature carries a premium.1 The 13-inch MacBook Pro is smaller than the 15, and thus cheaper. The 11-inch MacBook Air is smaller than the 13, and thus cheaper. But the iPod Touch isn’t just smaller than the iPad — it’s miniature. Gadget prices tend to follow a U-shaped curve: big is expensive, small is cheap, miniature is expensive. The iPad (3) is near the beginning of the curve. The iPhone and iPod Touch are at the end. This new smaller iPad will be in the middle.

Again, $249 (or even $299) seem right. Although, 9to5 Mac reports today that “sources” allege the iPad Mini will start at $329 --  and there’s cellular versions, no less.3 So perhaps my guessing game is all fucked up, and the smaller iPad ends up being more expensive than I anticipated. Then again, if rumors that Apple’s phasing out the $399 iPad 2, then $329 doesn’t sound so wacky after all.

Whatever the price of the damn thing, I’m still not buying one.

The Name Game

Gruber lists three possibilities for a name, in descending order:

  1. iPad Air

  2. iPad

  3. iPad Mini

He says he wouldn’t bet against any of these, but I would. I don’t think #1 sounds right. #2 doesn’t make sense either, as the iPad (3) is just “The New iPad”, so Apple has to make a distinction somehow.4 My vote still goes to #3 because a) ‘iPad Mini’ rolls off the tongue better than ‘iPad Air’; and b) there’s precedent in the name, so it makes sense that Apple might recycle it.

In Sum

As I wrote to conclude my earlier piece, Tuesday’s keynote should be interesting. I’m excited!

  1. Exactly the same insofar that it runs iOS and functions just like its bigger brother.  ↩

  2. X and Y representing the iPhone and iPod Touch.  ↩

  3. That answers one of my questions.  ↩

  4. Then again, the MacBooks Air and Pro and the iMac have varying sizes with no surname, so just “iPad” would fit.  ↩