Last week I posted about how iPad Mini rumors had been gaining strength. The feeling of ‘where there’s this much smoke, there must be some fire’ was growing for me and I said this towards the end of that post:
I guess I’ve reached the stage where I’d be more surprised not to see the iPad Mini released in the next 8-10 months, and I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see it launched this year.
Well, this week has only increased that feeling, I’d say it’s now very likely we will see an ‘iPad Mini’ (or whatever Apple ends up calling it) released in the next 6-8 months. The reason I now feel so convinced of this is that two of the best and best-connected Apple writers have weighed in (to varying degrees) on the subject this week, and all the indicators from them are that we will see Apple release a smaller iPad.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball has a post up today titled Let’s Try to Think This iPad Mini Thing All the Way Through. In the post he proceeds to do just that. He works through all the main arguments against the release of the iPad Mini and provides good reasons why these may not hold much weight anymore – as Philip Elmer-Dewitt at Fortune Tech points out:
- The size problem — It’s a mistake to call it a 7-inch iPad, says Gruber, because a 7.85 inches diagonal is closer to 8 inches than the 9.7-inch diagonal iPad is to 10 inches (and nearly everybody refers to the current iPad as a 10-inch tablet). Most 7-inch tablets have been disappointments. An 8-inch tablet needn’t be.
- The sandpaper problem — When Steve Jobs said you’d need to sandpaper your fingers to use a smaller iPad he was talking about a 7-inch screen (50% the surface area of today’s iPad), not a nearly 8-inch inch screen (64%). [According to Jobs and Gruber's geometry, the ratios are 45% and 66%.] Besides, Jobs was famous for changing his mind on a dime.
- The tap-target problem — Gruber cites something called Fitts’s Law to prove that the tap-target size on the 8-inch tablet is well within Apple’s 44-pixel guidelines. It is, in fact, the same as the iPhone’s.
- The Retina display problem — So what if the new iPad’s screen resolution is less than the latest iPhone’s and iPad’s? Apple may be trying to keep the cost down. Besides, the company usually adds Retina displays to its devices as an upgrade two or three years down the road.
- The price-point problem — With its economies of scale, Apple could probably sell the new device for $199 and make a decent 25% margin. Or it could price it at $249 and still sell a boat load. Gruber leans toward the lower price, figuring that it’s more important right now for Apple to seize control of the post-PC market and not leave any price-umbrellas open for its competitors.
Just as notable is this from Gruber, on what’s he’s hearing about the iPad Mini:
For another thing, I and others have heard from Cupertino-area little birdies that what Apple has been working on in the lab is a smaller iPad, not a bigger iPod. Same goes for last week’s reports from Bloomberg and the WSJ.
And here’s another reason why I’m ready to place my bet on seeing the iPad Mini this year: Jim Dalrymple at The Loop is well-known as having some of the best Apple sources around and for his great track record when it comes to thoughts on future Apple products and releases and announcements. Yesterday he wrote a post about how an iPad Mini might fare against smaller tablets like the Google Nexus and Amazon’s smaller tablets. In the post he talked about when Apple releases its smaller iPad, not if. It’s the second time (the first is here) in the last few months that I’ve seen Dalrymple use the word when rather than if in referring to a smaller iPad. Maybe it’s just wording and I’m reading too much into it – but when taken in tandem with Gruber’s latest piece and the recent reports from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal I’d say the iPad Mini smoke has now become quite the healthy bonfire.
As I said above, I think we will see the iPad Mini released in the next 6-8 months. I think it’s less likely to be released this fall as that would risk competing a little with the expected next iPhone release, and more likely to be released alongside the next iPad release in the first quarter of next year.
What do you all think? Will we see the iPad Mini released in that sort of timeframe? Will you be interested in getting one if we do?