Apple Inc believes to win back its home turf of consumer electronics hardware, while safeguarding its lead in the larger 10-inch tablet space that even deep-pocketed rivals like Samsung Electronics have found tough to penetrate, writes Reuters.
Amazon’s Kindle and Google’s Nexus 7 have grabbed a chunk of the tablet market and caused demand for pocket-sized devices, helping force Apple into a ‘space it has avoided and at times derided’, analysts suggest.
A smaller version of well-sold iPad, which was released about two years ago, would mark the first device to be added to Apple’s portfolio under the management of Tim Cook, who took over from co-founder Steve Jobs just before his death.
“Apple sensed early that they had a real winner with the iPad and that has proven to be correct,” said Lars Albright, co-founder of mobile advertising startup SessionM and a former Apple ad executive. “They have a large market share, and to protect that market share they have got to be innovative,” he added.
Wall Street analysts have said for months that the company was planning a less expensive version of the iPad to take on cheaper competing devices, a move that might hurt its margins, but is predicted to prevent its rivals from dominating an increasingly important segment.
The Kindle Fire tablet goes on sale at the initial price tag of $159, while the Nexus 7 can be purchased by $199. Meanwhile, the Californian company sells its iPad 2 for $399 and the 4-inch iPod Touch for $199. Analysts suggest that the price of the smaller iPad is somewhere in between.
Most of the guesses range from $249 to $299, Monday saw reports that the device’s price would be $329. That would make the iPad Mini twice the price of the cheapest Kindle Fire and leave plenty of room for other manufacturers to snap up value shoppers this holiday season.
Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets believes that Apple will also sell a step-up version of the iPad Mini, which provide access to 4G cellular networks for an additional fee. That’s a feature the cheaper, 7-inch tablets don’t have, IBN Live reports.
The Cupertino giant has sold 84 million iPads since their debut in April 2010. One of its first competitors appeared to be a Samsung tablet which features a 7-inch screen. Apple’s CEO and co-founder, Steve Jobs, in an October 2011 conference made it clear that he disliked the concept.
“The reason we wouldn’t make a 7-inch tablet isn’t because we don’t want to hit a price point. It’s because we don’t think you can make a great tablet with a 7-inch screen,” Jobs explained. “The 7-inch tablets are tweeners, too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad.”
He went on, adding that the resolution of the display could be increased to make up for the smaller size, but that would be “meaningless, unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of the present size.”
“There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touch screen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps,” Jobs said at the time.