UPDATE: I’ve since recanted on the idea of an iPad Mini
But I’m leaving the articles up as a record and historical curiosity.
In the last article I discussed out how Apple’s iOS platform has continued to grow and expand and as how I think Apple will update it’s current iOS devices. I also charted out how Apple keeps very trim product lines will clear and definable use case scenarios.
In this I’ll discuss how Apple will make an aggressive push into the Kindle and Nook’s space.
Apple’s Real E-Book Reader Killer
The first question that comes up in considering a 7″ inch iPad is what would it be used for? How would Apple market this to be different enough from an iPod Touch and an iPad to worth considering? My hunch is that this device will be a much more natural competitor to the Kindle and the Nook. So let’s see how the iPad currently compares to both the Nook and the Kindle spec-wise.
A couple of things become clear in this comparison:
1. The iPad, while lighter than any almost any netback, is still much heavier than the average book reader. (I myself experienced this trying to use the iPad to read a book in bed while holding it above my head with one arm)
2. There is a big enough price gap that people who only want an e-book reader are very comfortable paying only $139 because they would need at least another $369 to even get into the iPad
Now obviously Apple is not going to make the iPad Mini a dedicated e-book reader, but I think that it will the natural default description that people use in describing it’s mostly important.
Assuming the 7″ screen size rumor is accurate and based on Apple’s past actions, we can make some assumptions about the hardware of the iPad Mini.
The first is that it will look very much like the current iPad only smaller with the same hardware buttons and internal sensors. The screen will obviously be the same LED backlit IPS screen that the iPad and the iPhone 4 currently uses. The resolution is hard to pin down but my guess is that it would be more than the Kindle/Nook, but less than the current iPad putting it at around 960×720 pixels.
Because of the smaller case design Apple will be able to shave off some weight and get it down to around 16oz. Still heavier than the Kindle and the Nook, but much easier to hold with one hand. Another way to think of it is that the current iPad weighs the same as five iPhone 4′s, while the iPad mini would weigh as much as three.
The battery life on the Kindle and Nook are quite high given their e-ink screen technology (The Nook’s battery life is listed as 10 days with the wireless off and the Kindle 3 is listed as 30 days). Because of the computerish nature of the iPad Mini and it’s display technology it won’t be reaching these times. Based on the iPhone 4 and iPad it’s safe to assume that the iPad Mini will get at least 10 hours of battery life with wifi turned on.
Let’s compare this with the Kindle, Nook and current iPad.
By creating a smaller, cheaper version of the iPad Apple could further put pressure on the dedicated e-book market, continue to erode the netback market and lock up the tablet space much like it did with the mp3 player market with the iPod (the iPod holds about 70% of the market even though the dedicated mp3 market is mature and in the decline)
In the next article I’ll look at some of the issues and problems Apple faces in making the iPad Mini