The iPad mini is a totally new product for Apple. It represents a beautiful juxtaposition of the iPhone’s 4-inch display and the Retina iPad’s larger 10-inch canvas. While the rest of the industry has already shifted its focus to 7-inch tablets, Apple entered uncharted territory for itself today.
Based on what we’ve seen, the iPad mini looks like a very compelling device. I’m sure Apple will sell bazillions. What I don’t understand is Apple’s pitch for the iPad mini. What purpose does it serve, and what kind of customer is it intended for? There’s no denying that Apple unveiled a great product today, but the purpose of the iPad mini was muddled by a confusing pitch.
“iPad mini isn’t just a scaled-down iPad. We designed it to be a concentration, rather than a reduction, of the original.” – Apple
I tend to sum a person up in my mind after the first 5 minutes of talking with them. The first impression is always crucial. When Apple’s Phil Schiller introduced the iPad mini earlier today, he initially pitched it by saying, “What can you do with an iPad mini that you can’t already do with the amazing fourth-generation iPad? You can hold it in one hand.”
Schiller then proceeded to list off all of the amazing ways an iPad mini can be used. Apple believes that it’s great for email, surfing the web, reading, FaceTime, productivity apps, gaming, etc. Schiller kept rattling off use cases until he finally said, “I could do 275,000 examples for you, But we don’t have time!”
“It does this, this, this and that.”
It’s great that the iPad mini is useful in so many ways, but what is its main draw? I realize that Apple needed to hit every aspect of the device it could during the keynote, but I would have appreciated some more focus. Instead of showing a clear, distinctive pitch, the unveiling of the iPad mini felt like checking off a list. “It does this, this, this and that.” Yes, Apple. But what’s the point?
What I really didn’t care for was the amount of time Schiller spent comparing the iPad mini to Google’s Nexus 7 tablet. A quick stab would have been fine, but why take so long detailing how the iPad mini is better than its competitor? Apple has always been a company that’s succeeded on selling itself. Apple’s customers already know that the Android experience is inferior; there’s no need to belabor the point while taking up valuable keynote time. Too much stage time was given to the Nexus 7 today.
“This isn’t just a shrunken down iPad,” said Schiller. “It’s an entirely new design.”
Leading up to today’s event, there was a rumor floating around that Apple would be heavily focusing on the education sector during the keynote. This made sense to me. Touting Apple’s influence on education would give the iPad mini a clear purpose: a cheaper, smaller tablet that’s great for reading. I can get behind that.
Apple could have capitalized on the iPad mini’s entertainment factor. Schiller could have shown off video playback and brought a couple game developers onstage. There are all kinds of different ways Apple could have angled the announcement.
Maybe Apple expects the iPad mini to sell itself. Pricing it at $329 certainly doesn’t let Apple sell it on the cheapness factor when the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 both sell for $199. If Apple would have priced the iPad mini between $200 to $250, the pitch would have been clear: the best tablet at the most competitive price. Instead we got the best tablet at a higher price.
The iPad mini feels like a “just cause” product from Apple. “This isn’t just a shrunken down iPad,” said Schiller. “It’s an entirely new design.” While that may be true, nothing from today’s keynote gave me an indication that the iPad mini is actually more than a shrunken iPad. But I know Apple doesn’t just make a product for no reason. Is the iPad mini a response to the competition, or a greater part of Apple’s overarching strategy?
Image: AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez.