It’s hard to understand a problem, when there isn’t one. Before 1 p.m. EST, on Oct. 23, 2012, Apple enjoyed a comfortable lead in the tablet space after selling its 100 millionth iPad. But after 1 p.m., in San Jose’s California Theater, it seemed as if Apple had forgotten who they were. They were no longer a company driving innovation, but rather a byproduct of reactionary development for an industry they had lost control over.
Steve Jobs’ objection to the idea of a 7-inch tablet is well documented, and while I believe the evidence suggests he was wrong overall, the future may reveal he was probably right regarding Apple’s business model. It’s because Jobs understood when to differentiate and when to consolidate – that’s why there are multiple iPods and only one iPhone. But the iPad Mini’s issues, however, go beyond consolidation, and actually rest on execution.
It sees a tablet with virtually no value proposition. It’s too expensive to leverage price, too lackluster on specifications to stand out, and too big on size (7.9 inches) to differentiate itself from Apple’s own product line. It’s a product stuck in digital purgatory, and because of it, the device will only hurt Apple as a brand. In fact, Apple’s stock price went down $20.67 (-3.26 percent) shortly after the announcement – virtually unheard of following the company’s blockbuster keynotes. Even Phil Schiller, vice president of marketing at Apple, couldn’t spin the device in a positive direction with traditional Apple rhetoric.
So to use Schiller’s keynote comparison (Nexus 7) against him, not only did the iPad Mini fail to match the Nexus 7’s quad-core CPU and 12-core GPU, but the device couldn’t even match Google’s device pound-for-pound on screen resolution. With the Nexus 7 hosting a 1280 x 800 (216 ppi) resolution, the iPad Mini only utilizes an archaic 1024 x 768 (163 ppi) display. Now this would be fine if the device was around $200, but at $329 it’s a tough sell – especially considering the Nexus 7’s price ($199). However, Apple’s device does operate a rear 5 MP camera (one thing absent on the Nexus 7), but many may still wonder why the company just didn’t ax the feature to drive down price.
Now for people considering iPad alternatives, deciding against the iPad Mini is a no brainer, but for those clamoring to stay in Apple’s ecosystem, $329 still doesn’t make sense. The price is incredibly close to the iPad 2’s at $399, and when faced with the choice, many may stick with the iPad 2. But even if Apple shuts down the second generation iPad, replacing it with the Mini, many might just throw down an extra $170 for the full-blown iPad with Retina Display. What’s also surprising is the build quality. The iPhone 5 has received a variety of complaints surrounding chips and scratches regarding their new anodized aluminum exterior – so seeing that the iPad Mini went the same route with materials, they’ll more than likely receive the same criticism.
So with this announcement, Apple did very little to convince consumers, and it will only get worse. Next week, Google is set to blow up the mobile world with improvements to the Nexus 7 (adding a 32 GB model and HSPA+), announcing the LG Nexus 4 smartphone, releasing Android 4.2, and launching the Nexus 10. The mobile world just got smaller Apple, and Android is hardly going away. But with all this, Apple will still be the leader in the tablet space after next week, it’s just hard to understand why a company that used to dictate to its competition is instead reacting to products Apple itself claims pose limited threats.
|Nexus 7||iPad Mini|
|Display||7” HD (1280×800, 216 ppi)||7.9” (1024×768, 163 ppi)|
|Processor||Tegra 3 (quad-core)||A5 (dual-core)|
|Storage||8 GB/ 16 GB||16 GB/32 GB/64 GB|
|Camera||1.2 MP front camera||5 MP rear camera, 1.2. MP front camera|
|Battery||10 hours of web surfing||10 hours of web surfing|
|Dimensions||7.81” x 4.72” x 0.41”||7.87” x 5.3” x 0.28”|