The iPad Mini is a Now Rumor, But Would Such a Device Even be Necessary?

This image described by iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad mini, Ipad mini 

In the last week rumors of an iPad Mini have erupted all over the internet. If any of these are to be believed, we should be seeing a newer, smaller iPad to accompany the current model arriving in early 2011.

These are nothing more than rumors and speculation that are making their way around the blogosphere. Most of it comes from an analyst, his talks with “upstream component sources” and his educated guesses.

Setting any analyst’s work aside–and speaking from a hypothetical standpoint–would an “iPad Mini” be welcome?

The Good:

It’s more portable than an iPad – This is obvious enough. Some have complained that the iPad is nothing more than a less portable version of the iPod Touch, but they are selling the device short. Though, if Apple were to make a smaller version of the iPad, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to carry it around on short trips as one may a paperback book or a Nintendo DS. If the screen were between five to seven inches, it’s something that can be easily carried in a small purse or satchel without a hassle.

Could compete for the handheld market – To be fair, the iPad runs expensive if purchased as a dedicated gaming device. Any of the current consoles could be purchased for as low as $99 (PS2) or as high as $399 (PS3 250GB) while handhelds such as the DS Lite and PSP run anywhere from $129 to $250 respectively. Where does the iPad sit? Far above any of those prices. However, if Apple were to create the iPad Mini, it is possible that it would sell for under $400. This could narrow the gap between the iPad’s price point and the other gaming systems, thus making it even more feasible for those looking for a gaming machine.

Places more emphasis on the iBook  Format – Ebooks are nothing new right now. iBooks, on the other hand, are Apple’s entry into the market. They seem to be quickly gaining popularity because of the iPad, but an extra push from a device with stronger emphasis on the iBooks could help the format grow further. The current iPad is too different from Amazon’s Kindle to gain that audience, but maybe a smaller, cuter device could turn a few heads.

Lighter – The iPad weighs 1.5 pounds. That’s not heavy‚Ķuntil you hold it up for a few hours while browsing the internet. The reduced size of an iPad mini would make it lighter and easier on the user during extended periods of use. This advantage may be enough to sway potential buyers into buying a smaller iPad; especially those users who enjoy reading in bed.

The Not-so-Good:

Not ideal for typing – Most users have enough trouble trying to type on a touchscreen. With a phone, they can simply use their thumbs as they quickly scan around the keyboard; on an iPad, they can type on a near full-size keyboard. An iPad Mini would be the worst of both. It would be too large for thumb typists, and too small for efficient use as a full keyboard. It’s likely that this is one area the device would not excel at.


It may segment the users – This is always a possibility when a company introduces various models of a similar product. Much like an iPhone 3GS is more powerful than an iPhone 3G, leading to a potential for software that isn’t compatible across the board, something similar could happen with different types of iPads. Smaller iPads could be using a slightly slower processor by the time a second generation iPad is ready to roll out. After a few updates, it’s likely that users will find themselves unable to run certain types of Apps while those who purchase the new model can.


Technology is always evolving, and this was shown with the iPod. Users would buy the MP3 player, then months

later find out that the newer, color model was out and it played movies. They would purchase that model, then the smaller iPod with the flash memory would land in stores, and so on.

That brings up another good point…

It could confuse the non-tech consumer – Believe it or not, not everybody follows the tech blogs for the latest news. Even if they did, some don’t understand what “32 ‘Gee-Bee’ and a 1 Gee-H-Zee A4 processor with 3G something or other” means. It doesn’t mean they are stupid, it just means they, as an end user, aren’t concerned with the numbers behind their machine. They just want it to do what they need. Adding too many variations to the device makes them wonder which “i-Touch” they need to buy when all they want to do is read books and use that “internet” thing. Keep it simple, and even the non-tech type can join in on the fun.

I’m the iPad Mini; I’m  My Own Worst Enemy –  Though an iPad Mini has the potential to be somewhere between the iPod Touch and the iPad both in functionality and in price, finding that spot may be a challenge. There is  a risk associated with introducing an “in between” model: Those more concerned with cost may opt for the cheaper iPod Touch, while those just wanting the latest gadget will argue that for “a little bit more” they can purchase the larger, faster model. A scenario such as this one could make the device its own worst enemy.

Even if an iPad Mini is in the works for Apple, it’s likely that it won’t see an announcement until 2011. Still, as with any new product there are risks, and there are rewards. Time will tell if Jobs & Co. will be able to pull another rabbit out of the their hat.

At worst, Apple would likely create no more than two separate tablets from that point on. iPad owners will always be thankful that they aren’t falling victim to the company that decides to go for the total overkill and release six similar tablets in varying sizes and specifications that will make even the most tech-savvy customers run for cover. Impossible? Engadget spotted the following slide at a presentation given by Archos CEO that shows off just such a marketing  plan.

This image described by iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad mini, Archos-tablets-20100412-600 

(Photo: Engadget)

That’s a heck of a lot of SKUs to manufacture. Maybe their R&D department couldn’t come to an agreement on the specs? Oh well, can’t say they didn’t give people choices. Perhaps they’ve gone a bit overboard.


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