On its face, it seems a little silly be considering a ‘mini’ iPad. Yet the more I think about it, the better I like it. For reading and video, the 9.875″ iPad is a pretty comfortable size, big enough to provide detail and display ‘real estate’, yet small enough to be manageable. Yet I do find myself wishing it was a little lighter. Perhaps if Steve Jobs had opted with a plastic screen rather than glass, things might be different, but the story of how and why the switch was made is a well-known fable now, used to illustrate not only the proper use of blusterous management but also as evidence of the nimbleness and supposed superiority of Chinese factories. Yet an 8″ iPad would be just enough smaller that it could address the weight issue. This might help the iPad compete with the various Samsung devices and the Fire. The Wall Street Journal nails it:
“Samsung’s 5.3-inch Galaxy Note and Amazon’s seven-inch Kindle Fire have been selling well. It means consumers want a tablet that is smaller than the existing 9.7-inch iPad,” said Diana Wu, an analyst at Capital Securities in Taipei. “IPad’s features are good enough, but pricing would be an important factor in the mass market, especially in big emerging markets like China and India.”
Yet there have been many, many rumors in the past couple months about the timing and the nature of the latest iPad release. In my experience, all rumors are true, though they might not be true today. Apple has previously followed a strategy of releasing different colors and sizes for devices before with the iPod, though it has not done so with the iPhone. Nevertheless, there’s clearly precedent for such an iterative strategy. While the competition has been surviving, if not flourishing, in the ‘mid-size’ market, my business ‘spidey sense’ tells me that Apple’s not going to ignore this market segment for long. They’ll get in the game and they’ll do it in classic Apple fashion. The only question is when. Early March? Perhaps. I’m guessing April, on the anniversary of the original iPad launch. I can see a mini-iPad being a little more mobile, a little handier and a little more…tote-able than a full-sized iPad, yet more useful and comfortable to use than the smaller iPhone. With a proportional reduction in price, this could be what prompts me to buy a second one…for my family, of course.