Pre-Event Thoughts on the 'iPad Mini'

Yesterday I linked to John Paczkowski’s report that Apple’s scheduled to hold a press event on October 23 to unveil the so-called “iPad Mini”. One of my Android-using friends on Facebook mentioned that he couldn’t believe Apple was doing the smaller iPad, because they’re innovators and this is a reactionary move. His comments inspired me to think more about the iPad Mini, so naturally I wanted to articulate them here.

My initial reaction to my friend’s comments was twofold:

  1. Innovation needn’t be serendipitous. The original iPhone was essentially a reaction to the market -- a shitty market at that. The innovation was in how Apple took a sledgehammer to smartphone design and the market as a whole. Not to mention that Apple strong-armed AT&T into having no say-so in the design or (exterior) branding of the phone whatsoever, which, at the time, was unprecedented.
  2. That the iPad Mini is reactionary should be obvious. Though Steve Jobs famously derided the 7-inch form factor, Apple’s not stupid. They’ve seen products like the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 hit the market with relative success, and it’s not like Cupertino’s not allowed to change their mind.

All this said, I have a few questions about the smaller iPad:

  • How thin and light will it be?
  • Will it have cellular connectivity?
  • Will it have a Retina Display?
  • How much will it cost?
  • How will Apple differentiate this iPad from the larger one?

I think the last two questions are the biggest. Price-wise, I say $249. I want to say $199, but I’m not sure Apple can make a $199 iPad, at least not yet. As far as differentiation goes, I’d put money on no cellular and no Retina Display. It makes sense that with virtually everything Apple sells going Retina these days, the iPad Mini would have it too, but I don’t think so. Leaving it out is a) a cost-cutting measure to keep the price down; and b) it sends a clear message that if you want Retina, you have to choose the bigger model. Another difference relative to the other players is that 7.85 inches is a lot closer to 8" than to 7. What this means is Apple isn’t just crapping out a cookie cutter-sized tablet to match Amazon or Google. The extra space will mean something, and it’ll go a long way in distinguishing itself from the competition, as well as its bigger brother.

Whatever the iPad Mini is, the keynote will be interesting, that’s for sure.

(And no, I’m not getting one. The 9.7" iPad suits my needs perfectly fine.)