September is apparently going herald the arrival of the iPad mini, a seven-inch tablet. I’ve been ignoring it in the hopes that it’ll go away, but apparently, it’s not going to. It’s really going to happen. Here’s why it’s a bad idea: Apple, for the first time in a long time, is going to lose.
Yes, Apple turned the tablet computer from a nerd pipe to a viable PC market. And the iPad sells like meth. But the seven-inch tablet market is not the tablet market of… geez, two years ago? Goddamn.
Anyway. The tablet market has changed. In the ten-inch space, Apple dominates because ten-inch tablets that aren’t the iPad are generally awful. That’s what happens when you step into an ill-treated market and turn it around.
The seven-inch form factor, on the other hand, has not one, not two, but three competitors that can scrap with a tinier iPad. Amazon has the Kindle Fire, with the Kindle Fire 2 coming probably within a few weeks. Barnes and Noble has the Nook tablet. And Google has the Nexus 7.
There’s simply no way the iPad mini can compete in this market. Not least because there’s no way Apple is going to turn out an iPad with the sheer raw power of the Nexus 7. And it’d be different if the Nexus 7 were just a crappy Android tablet, but it’s not. It’s just as usable and user-friendly as the iPad… and it’ll likely be $100 cheaper.
So basically Apple is going to make a crappier tablet and charge more for it because of the logo on the back. Granted that this has been Apple’s strategy for years when it comes to PCs. But it’s hard to see it working this time.