Why Apple Really Needs The iPad mini and it makes sense

BY Tris Hussey

Published 4 Oct 2012

This is part two of my iPad mini rumor opinion piece. In part one I took the “Apple doesn’t need the iPad mini and shouldn’t make it” stance. In this post I’m taking the opposite stance. You might wonder how I can seriously do this and stand behind both posts.

Simple. This isn’t an easy, cut-and-dried issue. There are solid points for and against an iPad mini and it’s a good intellectual exercise to try to work and play off both sides equally well. So, here it is: Why the iPad mini is Going to be Awesome

I bought the first iPad, although I was skeptical at first, after trying a friend’s iPad at a local tweetup. I even convinced my wife to buy it for me in the U.S. before we could get them in Canada when she went down for a shopping trip. From the moment I started using it, I loved it. The iPad, actually, is what got me really hooked on iOS and later made the choice for me to switch to an iPhone a couple years ago easy.

When the iPad 3rd gen was rumored to be coming (by this time my wife had an iPad 2 and I was supremely jealous), I planned on buying one long, long before even the event was announced. Once it was announced, I kept hitting refresh until I could pre-order it from the Apple Store and have it the first day (which I did).

Since then I’ve been a champion of the iPad as a worthy alternative to a laptop. I’ve found that I can do 95–99% of my day to day tasks just fine on my iPad. The only snag comes when I need to upload or download files. I can live with that.

Oh and books? Yeah I don’t buy paper books any longer. Hey I write books (and I have a couple cases of books in my office from my publisher) and I prefer to read them digitally. Then thing is, sometimes I think the full-sized iPad might be over kill for folks. I don’t know about you, but for reading books, I don’t need that much screen. Not to mention having something a lot lighter would be cool.

Then there is the price point. I think my daughter would gladly switch up to an iPad mini (goes well with her Kobo I think) for email and writing and school research…and that fits the budget a lot better than a full on iPad.

Books and research brings up the question of apps. This is a tough one. App devs have just gone through an update process for the iPhone 5, which while I’ve heard wasn’t hard, wasn’t trivial either. Will an iPad mini cause more development headaches than use cases it fits…not if it’s positioned correctly. The iPad mini, I think, should be poised as a media consumption device first, Internet research tool (which I think includes email as well) second, and after that…games and other productivity apps. The smaller size (if the size rumors are close) will be great for books and movies (and music is a given). Even if Safari doesn’t have a lot of screen real estate, you can still look up and research. I’d wager that Evernote might be one of the first apps that would be “native” on an iPad mini.

Yes, Apple needs the iPad mini for media. Really Apple seems to be a media company with great gear to play it on. Movies, music, and books that you can buy once and then tap into across a range of devices from your TV to computer to tablet to phone. The iPad mini just solidifies Apple’s line up of media devices that are sleek and easy to carry. Maybe it’s not an iPad mini but an iPod maxi (yeah, yeah there are jokes being written about that right now I bet…).

Here’s another reason why Apple needs iPad mini. According to folks at Quartz.com, Apple’s share of the US tablet market has dropped from 81% in 2011 to 52% in 2012 and it doesn’t even take into account Google’s Nexus 7, or Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HD, or Noble’s new Nook or Microsoft’s Surface.

According to The Economist’s Leanback 2.0 blog, Kindle Fire grabbed 21% grabbed of the market share in 2012, which clearly shows that there is demand for 7-inch/cheaper tablets.

So even though Apple still dominates the tablet market, giving people a range of sizes and form factors to choose from at cheaper price points, thus giving them one less reason to buy a tablet from its rival, just makes good sense.

Thumb picture by Sarah Reid from Flickr.