Time for ipad fans to see the shrink
It may be small but Apple’s new ipad could have a big impact
APPLE’S smallest, lightest and cheapest tablet computer will not arrive in Australia until Friday but the device has already split the market in two.
One camp of experts predicts it will be the hottest electronic purchase this Christmas — so hot it could help double the market for 7-inch tablets and jeopardise larger computing purchases.
The other group maintains Apple did not go far enough to please price-conscious consumers who would have snapped up an iPad Mini under the magic $300 mark but may now hesitate.
But both camps agree that Apple will sell plenty of the modestly sized tablet addition this year, and more small-sized competition will be headed to store shelves to compete for consumer attention.
The iPad Mini was unveiled in San Jose last Wednesday after months of speculation.
The smallest iPad to date features a body that is 23 per cent thinner than the third generation iPad at just 7.2mm, more than half as light at 308g, and costs $170 less than the new top-of-the-line iPad.
Apple worldwide marketing senior vice-president Phil Schiller says that despite the size reduction, the tablet is still worthy of Apple’s tablet brand.
‘‘ This isn’t just a shrunken down iPad. It’s an entirely new iPad,’’ he says. ‘‘ It is a great iPad and the technologies inside are equal to or better than the iPad 2 in every way.’’
Those components include a dual-core A5 processor, the same 1024x768 resolution as the iPad 2 (though packed on to a smaller screen) and two cameras, including a 5-megapixel iSight camera on its back.
Surprising some who tipped a wi-fi-only tablet, Apple will offer 4G versions of the Mini models for an additional $140, though these will not be available until later in November.
But while Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi says Apple has created a typically stylish product in the iPad Mini, he claims its pricing is a ‘‘ strategic failure’’.
‘‘ Apple obviously has a pre- mium pricing strategy but it is risky,’’ he says. ‘‘ A sub-$300 device could have locked the market up for Apple for the foreseeable future. They have reacted to the marketplace demanding lower prices but this device is possibly not cheap enough to excite budget-conscious consumers. Once you start looking at any Mini over 16GB you’re back into iPad 2 price territory.’’
While the iPad Mini starts at $369, it reaches $729 for the top model — just $170 below the fourth generation, full-size iPad that is substantially more powerful. Fadaghi says this price ‘‘ might also put off people buying the Mini as a second tablet’’ and may force Apple to consider a price cut in the near future.
But other analysts argue that Apple’s smaller tablet will be successful regardless of price concerns.
IHS iSuppli tablet research director Rhoda Alexander predicts the iPad Mini will help to double sales of 7-inch tablets this year and again in 2013.
‘‘ Apple will successfully position the smaller iPad as a device that will be attractive and easy to adopt for both new and returning customers,’’ she says. ‘‘ This will spur rapid sales growth and provide tough competition for other companies contending in this size range.’’
IHS forecasts sales of more than 34 million 7-inch tablets this year, representing 28 per cent of the market, and a further jump to 67 million next year.
But Ovum principal analyst Adam Leach and Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster both warn that the iPad Mini’s popularity could risk sales of the full-size, full-priced iPad, and it may encourage some users to delay laptop purchases.
Munster says the company will ‘‘ lose one million standard iPad’’ sales for every five million Minis sold, while Leach says Apple will need to lure new users to its smaller tablet to ‘‘ offset’’ the cheaper device. JENNIFER DUDLEYNICHOLSON