If the rumors turn out to be true, is the iPad mini shaping up to be a must-have? What would make an iPad mini a worthwhile purchase, especially for someone who may already own an Apple tablet and/or phone?
Rumors are always just rumors until Apple announces something in a keynote. Leaked photos of the alleged device have sprung up from almost all corners of the Web and analysts are clamoring to weigh in on what they see as either a revolutionary accomplishment of design or a potential flop.
As for me, I’m more interested in discussing the potential of such a product. A smaller iPad would still be an iPad, and it’s up to Apple to come up with a very compelling argument to encourage existing and former customers to hop back on board.
A 7″ iPad would undoubtedly need to be defined as more of a content consumption device.
It’s been proven time and time again that there’s a sweet spot somewhere in the vicinity of 7″ that make tablets a little more appealing to users. It’s small enough to store in a standard pocket on most bags and yet large enough to enable the user to browse the Web comfortably. It’s also widely considered to be a good size for kids as it fits comfortably in their smaller hands without appearing to be overwhelmingly large.
There are downsides to a smaller screen in a productive environment. The on-screen keyboard at 10″ is hard enough to work with, but shrinking it down by another 3″ would make it almost unbearable for my big, meaty hands. I would find myself switching between using my thumbs and typing very slowly with multiple fingers. Hence, this tablet space is generally thought of for media consumption devices rather than media production.
It’s in this definition that all of the appeal of the iPad mini would be found. I’d almost certainly be drawn to an iPad that was small enough to pack just about anywhere and yet capable of playing back media in a variety of formats. If the iPad mini doesn’t change anything about how it operates on iOS, this should be fine. No one is forcing a current iPad user to produce content. I’d be willing to bet that most iPad users are currently using it as a content consumption device already, anyway.
Price would undoubtedly be the most important factor in an iPad mini’s success.
It comes down to price, really. When I think about smaller tablets, I’m thinking about the budget space of ~$200. If Apple can’t hit that $200 mark, it’ll have a tough time reaching saturation in that market. The Amazon Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 are already in that space and performing quite well. Just the fact that it’s an Apple product would only take an iPad mini so far.
Unless Apple comes up with some ingenious way to draw people in, it’s hard to say that a smaller version of the current iPad would do much to drive people away from competing devices.
What about you? Would you buy an iPad mini? What would you use such a device for?
Image: Mike P.