It almost seems like a foregone conclusion. According to most reports, Apple is gearing up to launch a smaller form factor iPad in the fall, likely October, and likely at the same time they announce the iPhone 5.* And while Steve Jobs adamantly decried the smaller size, because of what’s occurred over the past year-plus in the e-reader and tablet market, Apple is doing the right thing.
* As a techie geek and Apple fan at heart, that keynote will be a must-watch-blogcast for me…seriously, these two products? Drool…
Google just announced what looks to be the 7″ tablet to beat, the Nexus 7, with Android ICS, strong processor, and perhaps most importantly, a Kindle Fire-like price point. So now, the same $199 can buy a full-fledged tablet that can easily have the Kindle app loaded for the full Kindle reading experience, plus a Nook app, a Kobo app, and so on. And while Google usually puts out the Nexus hardware as almost a test bed for manufacturers to see/copy, this one might stick.
So along comes Apple, the heavyweight in the room. No one has come close to matching the iPad success. Yes, some hardware compares well, and you can go on and on about mini USB ports, SD card slots, “open systems”, and all that, but it doesn’t change the fact that the iPad combined with iOS just works. And it sells. Even at a higher price point. An iPad Mini, and I’m going to guess it hits at $299 (because (a) Apple doesn’t want to play in the bargain bin pricing neighborhood, and (b) they know they can get it), would shake up the tablet world once again. But I believe it will do more than that, and that this is the first shot across the bow to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and even Kobo (who is becoming more aggressive ,and I feel is a very viable 4th distributor).
An iPad Mini will be a very comparable, and better alternative to the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet (again, like an Android tablet, the various e-reader apps can be loaded), and I think Apple is gearing up to throw some weight, effort, and money behind improving the iBookstore experience. By having their own 7″ (looks like 7.85″, but let’s not quibble…) form factor tablet, with the absurdly easy to use and reliable iOS, they have the perfect platform to distribute ebooks. And I have a feeling that will be part of the keynote in the fall. The iBookstore lags behind the Kindle store (and even behind the Nook store, which is saying something) in terms of ease of search, marketing, exposure, and the like. It’s just not easy to use, which goes against everything Steve Jobs, et al., pushed for.
With the technology, marketing savvy, and maybe most importantly over 100 million existing iTunes customers with credit cards on file, I feel Apple, if they wanted to, could come in and change the ebook game. And this might be the time. And I for one am looking forward to Apple getting off their butts and making iBooks more successful.
Questions: would you buy an iPad Mini? If you have an iPad, would this be a second purchase for the household?
P.S. Apple haters, you’ll never convince me…