The iPad Mini Will Change Apple’s DNA Forever

Well, Apple sent out invites to an upcoming event that pretty much everyone agrees will introduce us to the iPad Mini. A smaller iPad, rumored to be between 7 and 8 inches and that will have a lower resolution display than the Retina iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch.

The iPad Mini, if the web can be trusted, will probably run a generation old processor A5, as opposed to the A6 in the newest iPhone. It will probably come in 16 and 32 GB versions and all that to compete on one front. The price. Apple, it looks like, will for the first time ever, align itself with the market’s price points and offer a tablet at the $200-$250.

On the one hand, this does make sense. Look at the iPods. They range from $50 to $400 with options at every level. Same with the iPhone. You can get the  4, 4S, or the 5 at different capacities and different price points. But not the iPad. It starts at $399 for the iPad 2. What about those people that want an iPad but cannot justify that price when there are very decent possibilities on the market for $200? In comes the iPad Mini!

“OK, great. Another Apple device I do not need and will probably buy just to add to the collection”. Except, if you step back and examine this announcement, it stands out among Apple’s product line for various reasons. I should say that there still is a slight chance that the rumors are actually wrong and no iPad Mini will be announced, but based on the invites and various different leaks, the chances are minimal.

Anyway, back to why this product is different than all other Apple products. You see, the most common phrase today on the internet when discussing Apple is “Steve Jobs would never have done that”. It has actually gotten ridiculous. Having said that, a smaller iPad with stripped down specs just to compete with Google and Amazon? I mean, you tell me, would Steve Jobs ever have done that?

No, he would not have. Apple did not play catch up. Apple invented the iPhone and others followed with their versions of a touch screen, grid-based, swipe and pinch UI. In fact, even after Android had already surpassed Apple and adopted the same model that Microsoft did with Windows back in the day (licensing out vs Apple’s hardware software integration), Apple still didn’t cave on price or compromise on quality.

Apple has been known to design and sell premium products at premium prices. But now, all of a sudden, the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 are selling like hot cakes, so Apple is playing catch up?

Jobs himself stated that a smaller tablet was not a good idea. Now, yes, I know what you’re thinking. Jobs also said there would be no video on the iPod and many many other things that ended up happening. The difference is, times changed and video went mainstream. As far as the 7” form factor, nothing has changed. People’s hands are the same size and web browsing remains better on a 9.7” display. The only thing that has changed is that Apple’s competitors jumped ahead with a product that has done well and now Apple has to adapt to the market instead of the market adapting to Apple, which is what has happened in the past.

Apple’s stock is approaching $1,000, so the company is stronger than ever, but a move like this, in which Apple has been transformed from a leader to a follower, is indeed a bad sign. If there is one thing Steve Jobs was NOT, he was not a follower and so, forget the form factor and the user experience of a 7” tablet. Steve Jobs would never have taken the company he built and turned it into just another player in the tech space that instead of innovating, looks at the competition and tries to tweak what they are doing to make it minimally better.

Author: Hillel Fuld

"Hillel is a tech blogger who manages multiple sites such as Technmarketing, Appboy, and inneractive. In addition, Hillel has written on many leading online publications such as Mashable, Gigaom, and others. In addition to his blogger hat, Hillel is an active Twitter personality who defines himself as a "Social media addict". When Hillel is not blogging or tweeting, he is the Head of Marketing for inneractive, a mobile startup that deals with app monetization across all mobile platforms."

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  • LTMP

    I really don’t agree with much in this post.

    Apple has certainly followed the market. The Mac Mini is a great example. It was introduced to help Apple capture some of the lower end PC market, and it did so quite successfully.

    Just because Apple has often been a market creator doesn’t mean that they should ignore the competition. Steve famously said that Apple needed to learn when to go after market share instead of margins. And he was right to say so.

    Right now, the smaller tablets are grabbing a large piece of the market.

    Apple has a choice. They can let their competitors have that segment, or they can launch a competitive product and keep that cash for themselves.

    Because of their supply chain economies, the strength of their ecosystem and the richness of iOS, there is little doubt that Apple can build a very strong competitor in this area. And they can do it without drastically eroding their margins.

    Why on earth should they ceed the market to others when they can grab much of it for themselves while increasing revenues and earnings?

  • Welchgoose

    Apple’s stock is approaching $1000? It’s actually dropped ~10% since the iPhone 5 was released and is a bit above $600. This article has some good points but is low on facts. If/when the iPad Mini is released, it will help Apple get even more of the tech market which in turn will sell more devices, further popularize the OS etc. They could sell iPad Mini’s at-cost and still profit.

  • Walt French

    Jobs famously said the iPad would not put up a price umbrella for competitors to hide under, but here we are, just two years later, and firms are selling tablets for what looks like half the price.

    Yes, they’re smaller; many are junky or have lousy screens. But the new crop is potentially disruptive to Apple’s incumbency. (“Potentially” in that as a constant laptop user who finds a smartphone (a) absolutely necessary to always have, and (b) way inferior to my 17″ screen, I’m not yet convinced that many people outside of the Kommentariat actually find small-screen tablets very useful, except as dedicated e-readers.)

    Maybe the economics of these technologies have changed dramatically in the last two years, but the cost of distribution, support and software have not, so I don’t see that a 50% cut across the board is indicative of anything than competitors hoping to break into a market before it forever becomes unassailable.

    So unless Apple has utterly lost its way, they will position a smaller iPad not as a cheaper alternative, but as the perfect tool for some task that’s not addressed by either current Apples or competitors’ devices. An educational device, fr’instance, possibly bundled with iBooks, possibly ruggedized for kids. It might be more subtle than what you actually hear announced.

  • JDSoCal

    Oh, how lovely, another “Jobs wouldn’t have done XXX” article.

    Newsflash, dumb bunny: Apple’s products are in the pipeline well over a year. iPad, conceived before iPhone, was on the drawing board for several years.

    In other words, Jobs almost certainly approved the iPad Mini, you dope.

  • Sajan Shetty

    this is bullshit!
    apple followed the market when they released the ipod shuffle to gain market share (as the specific reason given by steve jobs in his keynote) and to compete with the flash players that existed before the introduction of the ipod, and had the lower end of the mp3 market profit wise but aqpple still wanted to go after it.

  • Cdnsdeservecompetence

    I agree, it is smart business and it will allow Apple to maintain it’s dominant position in the tablet market, which is at over 60%. Jobs was very competitive, he would have supported a 7inch tablet, once he understood it would allow Apple to maintain it’s market share. One of the reason’s Apple does so well with consumers is not only the humanistic, creative aspect of their brand and think differently campaign, but their products are known to have a very userfriendly interface (I bought by grandfather an ipad as I knew it would easy to use for him), to be very reliable/durable and to be overall high quality. Tim Cook the new CEO is known to be very meticulous which is showing up in the production of the iphone, as manufacturers are saying Apple wants the iphone to be assembled perfectly, which is taking a little more time being the quality control is so high, but this adherence to a high standard for all of their products will translate into high sales. Almost done! Lastly the new iohone, ipad and all ofher Apple products will bring in large growth/sales for next couple of years or 8 quarters approx. but to really anchor itself as an enduring company for decades to come Apple must continue to innovate additions to current products and new imaginative products that will add to the quality of people’s lives. Tim Cook has often said he is committed to ongoing creativity and innovation at Apple which would likely be in part as Jobs had wanted Apple to remain as a longterm, leading, successful tech company for decades to come. This company appears to be in in a way to be in new phase of growth, after Jobs and it is very interesting to watch.

  • Cdnsdeservecompetence

    I agree, Steve Jobs was not only very innovative, creative and liked to lead the way with the most innovative products he also was very competitive and made choices to ensure Apple did have maximum market share while still staying true to Apple’s core values of quality, reliable, userfriendly products. Tim Cook, new Apple CEO, is known to be a very meticulous person, with high standards for quailty, he is trained as an industrial engineer with an MBA. This will do well for Apple’s brand and products, which we have already seen via the high quality control for the iphone 5. Cook was a close friend of Jobs and has said as much he wishes to ensure Jobs dream of a long-term, strong Apple for decades to come is reached. Hence Cook is so careful to protect and build on the Apple Brand with his precise and methodical kind of thinking. This as much about performing well and competently as a CEO but for Cook it is also about growing and safeguarding a friend’s legacy. Being a technology enthusiast myself in many areas not just communication/computer tech, I think Apple has an important role to play in the growth and evolution of new products adding to knowledge ect… people can email Cook at tcook@apple .com encouraging long-term innovation at Apple, which will benefit all of us who like and think responsible environmentally friendly tech plays a part in increasing the quality of all of our lives.

  • Cdnsdeservecompetence

    Jobs was not only creative and innovative but he was a savvy, competitive business person. In order to maintain Apple’s leading market share in the tablet market he would have supported this and he did as mentioned by another post with the ipod shuffle. Apple does well not only because they create leading new products or adaptations of existing ones, but their products are known for their quality, reliabitliy and user friendly high standards. Tim Cook it could be argued is even more meticulous to detail and quality control then Steve Jobs, but he is also having an MBA and good business sense commited to high sales while maintaining the high quality Apple is known for. We are all now witnessing this with the iphone, which is taking longer to assemble, which will result in strong sales as it is a very well put together, quality smartphone. As long as Cook and the rest of his team are committed which they appear to be, to new, imaginative products, innovation, building on Apple’s brand, the company will be a leading tech. company for decades to come which is what Jobs wished for.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bbuchmueller Brad Buchmueller

    I think its ridiculous to label Apple a “follower” for releasing a different screen size for a tablet industry which it created in the first place. All they are doing is flipping a switch to dominate a different segment. You might as well call them a follower for releasing the iPhone in 2007. It wasn’t the first cell phone right?

  • http://twitter.com/FarhanaRahman Farhana Rahman

    You made many strong points in this beautifully written post, hence many of the weird responses. Looks like some people need to take a chill pill.

    I agree with you Hillel, especially with your conclusion. All the iPad mini talk made me lose the high level of respect I previously had for Apple as the staple of innovation.

    In their defense… I don’t know… maybe they could only innovate so much? I don’t know. Ya, I’m not thrilled.