iPad Mini – My First Thoughts
The event is over, the buzz had subdued and now we have the after-glo that only really seems to come from an Apple product release. It’s fair to say that no other firm that I can think of has quite the same, or effective, delivery method that Apple has. But … it felt like it was lacking a bit. There were a few verbal fluffs in there and it felt a little more ‘off the cuff’ in places and.. honestly.. it felt a bit more honest and real. Although there was a definite sense of responsibility on giving a good delivery from those on stage.. they also definitely seemed more relaxed than in previous years.
I can’t be the only one that thought “Wow! Did they really just blast Samsung?” when they started the demo and comparison with Android. It’s fair and everyone does it but historically Apple just seemed to be above that. Of course there’s the ongoing battles in court but it’s been a good few years since we saw it out in the playground as well.
The Target Market?
It’s definitely a lovely looking device and looks a lot more kindle-esk in it’s form factor than those long and thin Andorid tablets that are kicking about. But who exactly is it aimed at? The resolution and processor power is relatively low so the ‘bleeding edge bunch’ are less than likely to be the market.. unless it’s a nice little (no pun intended) addition to their existing Retina device. So we’re talking about someone who isn’t about the ‘fast and furious’ side of portable computing (Non power user)
For those that want lower resolution devices, they can get bigger screen real estate at a lower cost using an android device. And that device isn’t going to be sluggish so I’m left assuming that they’re either an iOS fanboi or a true Ultra portable device user.
It’s a pricey device too. Let’s not forget that the main competition for this is going to be one of the many 7″ tablets out there running, most likely, Android. And they’re really cheap. But we’ll be fair and assume that we shouldn’t compare the resistive touch screen devices at the lower end. What you’re left with is a device that’s coming in at about £80 over the competition. You’d either really want iPad apps in the most portable format possible or be looking for the cache of having the most expensive sub 10″ tablet out there.
Before I forget.. I need to get back to my ‘long and thin’ comment above. I find it interesting that Apple can slate the competition for having tablets that are long and thin when this is the exact approach they’ve taken with their iPhone 5 device. Using the same logic that apple has used to justify the screen on the iPad Mini… the Galaxy S3 is the better choice for surfing over the iPhone 5.
So from the above I assume that the target market is one of: -
- Non power user who wants a highly portable device
- Someone who has likely invested in iPad apps already or needs those same apps in the most portable format possible
- Someone looking for the cache of having a spanking new iPad Mini
- An Apple Fanboi, iSheep or other term commonly used to describe the Apple faithful.
Supporting the ‘Large Screen’ brigade
I’ve been pondering for some time how Apple can approach the increasing desire for larger and larger highly portable screens given that they clearly don’t want to go down that route with their phone product(s). It has seemed that this middle-ground between a very pocketable phone and the large (?) format iPad was the one major area of weakness for Apple, especially given the strength from players like Samsung in this market.
The iPad mini definitely goes a long way to filling that gap but honestly, does anyone see the 3G device as being a real option? Until providers start allowing duplicate SIMs and piggybacking on a single contract (PLEASE can we have this back? It was possible in the 90s and 2000s so why not now?) then tethering is the only sensible (to me) way to go. My current preference for seperate contract connectivity is the wonderful MiFi device as it provides truly portable Wifi access point for up to five devices. A great hybrid solution that gives you a seperate contract but flexbility in how you use it.
Mobile phone contract tethering is another interesting way to go. Pricing really needs to become sensible here though. I pay for my 500MB, 750MB, 1GB or whatever per month on my mobile contract. For goodness sake why can’t I use it how I please? Or at least charge a sensible amount of money for the feature. Three.co.uk offers it as a £2 per month increase on mid-tier contracts or £5 per month on lower end contracts. I’m still not happy about this but couple it with the truly unlimited data and you’ve got a really compelling solution at a low cost.
But will tethering work for Apple in the long run? Blackberry failed with this exact approach on the playbook, though Apple do give the true 3G integrated option. I wonder just how popular tethering is and if people avoid is for cost or impracticability for day-to-day use.
The Education Market / eReader
No doubt the iPad is great for education. I think Tim hit it on the head when describing the benefits of the iPad and the Bookshelf feature as a perfectly joined-up solution for distribution of text books. And although I don’t like them taking a 30% cut on books… I can’t argue with their terms which benefit students such as required updates. Future revision should not cost the same as the original book costs and lets not get started on the ecological benefits of upgrading digital books over simply dumping older editions of large format print books.
But that’s all on the iPad, with it’s super wonderful large screen and glorious Retina display. When we drop it down to 8″ is it really the same compelling experience for reading? And not just leisure reading where we can increase the font size to suit for comfort… reference material reading where format is king and often clarity can ease with absorbing that vital data. This isn’t going to be answered until we get these devices in hand and really attempt to use this same large-screen content in the smaller form factor.
Final thoughts – For now..
Certainly as I watched the event live I found the idea of the iPad mini very compelling. Though not enough to say outright that I wanted to head out and buy one… and I will have a new iPad ordered within the month so I’m definitely in the market for an iPad. My daughter on the other hand (Who is also mulling over which iPad to get) … decided there and then that the mini was the way to go. Why the quick decicion? She’s not fussed on the amount of power in the device, she wants something small enough to fit inside any particular school bag of the day and yes… she wants all of those app she’s used to on the current iPad.
I’ll most likely go with the larger iPad with Retina Display and my reasons are simple … I love iOS on the large screen. To me it’s simply an OS that gets out of my way and lets me get at the apps. No animated wallpapers (I have things to do without staring at my desktop background), no face recognition, no near field for scanning stuff that I don’t yet have … just a really fast tablet with a really great selection of apps. Apparently there are quite a few, or so Tim and Phil say.Google+