Apple’s Next Big Thing is Going Small

Luis Badillo, Writer

Courtesy of Apple Inc.

Apple usually isn’t the type of company to yield to rumors, but recently the company has given in to announcing their new 7-inch tablet, the iPad mini. In an Oct. 23 conference, Apple announced the iPad mini alongside a New Macbook Pro, Mac Mini and iMac.

But the real talk of the tech world is when Apple finally delivered on announcing their new iPad Mini. A new smaller format iPad had been rumored for about a year, but only now has Apple given any indication as to whether they were working on it. The iPad mini will feature a 7.9″ screen and will weigh about 10.8 ounces making it a nice halfway point between their iPad proper and their iPhone/iPod touch lineup.

The response from iPad Mini reviews has been overwhelmingly positive, as it is to be expected. Apple is not the type of company that will release a product that isn’t ready to be totally scrutinized by the media.  This product remains true to the Apple legacy of touch screen computing. One can expect a fluid operating system, snappy browsing, sleek hardware design, as well as the monumental app support found on the traditional iPad and iPhone.

But the huge hurdle that many potential tablet buyers may note immediately is the price. At $330, the iPad Mini is Apple’s attempt to lower the barrier of entry for people who have not yet decided to own a tablet. Compared to the $499 cost of the traditional iPad model, the Mini certainly is that. Compared to the $200 price tag of competent competitors (such as the Nexus 7, or the Galaxy II), the Mini doesn’t seem quite the economical tablet option that Apple wants it to be.

Apple isn’t wrong to take their iPad into the 7-inch tablet sub-market. The successes of the Kindle Fire and its HD variant have proved that people are quite comfortable with the 7-inch size, plus the ability to use it with one hand makes it more appealing to a casual user.

That’s why the iPad mini is such a hard sell to the non-invested consumer. The iPad mini still has all the things that make Apple products great. Though it took some time, Android tablets are quickly coming up to par with the experience an Apple device provides. Namely, the Nexus 7 is the smoothest running Android tablet on the market, and is comparable to any of the Apple devices in terms of performance. It also has a higher resolution 16:9 display. If performance isn’t too much of a concern, then a Galaxy Tab or A Kindle Fire is serviceable for basic tablet computing needs. With the growing selection consumers have to pick from, Apple shouldn’t be marketing the iPad mini solely as an alternative to the iPad.

The Mini still has the edge in one area. It can be argued that the only good hardware is one with good software. If that’s true, than the iPad is way ahead of the competition. Developers’ frequent attention to developing for Apple products leave Android users in want. Who can blame them? Developer’s are more likely to turn a profit in the Apple store, thus are more likely to devote time and resources to develop interesting apps that run smooth.

A decision on the 7-inch space comes down to how much one wants something with the Apple name on it. The standard is $200 for a 7-inch, and Apple is charging $130 extra for their entry to the market. For those who previously owned an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, spending that much extra to have all your apps carry over is not an unreasonable proposition.  For those looking for a new 7-inch tablet and haven’t been impressed by Apple devices in the past, the iPad Mini probably won’t change their mind.