The iPad Mini: A Compelling Device, But A Confusing Pitch [Opinion]

The iPad Mini: A Compelling Device, But A Confusing Pitch [Opinion]

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
Related
  • RadTech5000

    Apple has given us another option for the iPad, it’s now much smaller, lighter, thinner, and much more portable. Also the iPad-Mini will offer us the same top notch build quality we’ve come to expect from any Apple product.

  • collegiatewimp

    I don’t find it confusing. I understand that it’s for those who want a smaller form factor. But that’s just me.

  • mr_bee

    I agree. And all that comparison to the Nexus was kind of facile in that the only reason the Nexus is even considered to be a contender is the price. What’s the point of matching all these crappy Nexus features, but then making it so much more expensive? If it doesn’t even come close to the Nexus price, then the Nexus still wins anyway.

    I also thought all the comparisons to the iPad 2 were a bit stupid. Compare it to the regular sized iPad, not last year’s regular sized iPad. It seemed tricky and deceptive.

  • JohnWilson

    I have a hard time understanding how a guy who writes about Apple on an Apple-related blog doesn’t realize that Apple rarely ever sacrifices margin for marketshare. Name an instance where they have done that? Name a time they didn’t feel confident they couldn’t outmatch competition on quality and value over dropping their pants on price?

    Android tablets and Amazon are in a race to the bottom. If they make it up on services, great. But they probably won’t. Apple would never enter that fray. They’ll deliver the thinnest, lightest, longest-battery tablet with the most apps and best brand in the business. And you’re ‘confused’ they didn’t sell it at cost? Absurd.

  • B066Y

    and much more portable.

    I can’t agree with that unless it fits in my back pocket, if it doesn’t then it’s no more portable then a full sized iPad. From the pictures it looks to big to do that. Also I can’t justify the price. It’s to close to the iPad 2

  • Len Williams

    Gee, Apple provides us with an option for people who want a smaller form factor for whatever purpose, and you’re critical of how they presented it? This reminds me of the people who bitched about Siri because it didn’t fulfill one of their preconceived ideas, so that made it absolute trash. The mini looks like a great tablet, fast and full-featured. I’ve held off on buying an iPad but the mini may just be the item that makes me take out my wallet. I love my iPhone 4S but occasionally long for a larger screen, and the mini looks like the perfect combination of power, capability and at a size that will fit in a (large) pocket. I like to look at technology for what it can do for me, not what I wish it could do, and the presentation today was just fine. Anyone who failed to see the value to their own niche (education, navigation, reading on the train, etc.) just lacks imagination, or should buy the full-size iPad. Or whatever the heck they think will help them accomplish the things they need to do. We now have options for the iPad, and this should be celebrated not complained about.

  • Allan Cook

    I’m thinking it’s more a confusing device. Too big for a phone, too small for a usable input/browsing device. Neither fish nor fowl. I don’t think it’s an accident that SJ didn’t support a smaller iPad.

  • Jaap Steensma

    It’s such a shame. Sure, they will share more ipad minis than they can make, but this is only due to the fact that it’s APPLE we’re talking about.

    But they should have shown a sign of supremacy by lowering the prices. For 249 the ipad mini would have a waiting list until january. Would it interfere with the ipod touch? Sure, maybe a little. But for every ipod touch that you don’t sell, you’ll sell an ipad mini. And ipads generate more income via accessories, apps, books etc. Take my word for it: Apple prefers to sell an ipad instead of an ipod! But now, with a price above the 300 dollars mark and so close to the ipad 2 (spec-wise) nobody will buy the ipad because of its qualities.

    The only reason people will buy it will be:
    1. Christmas (I mean, your 6-year old needs something to play with right?)
    2. Uhh, duh, it’s Apple. No questions will be asked.
    3. Consumerism. I want. No, I NEED the newest product! Gimme!
    4. The only way to test it is to buy it! If I don’t like it, ebay will help me get rid of it!

    It’s a shame. I was willing to pay 299. I mean, everybody has about 250 bucks on their account, so why not? If you don’t have an ipad… go for it! But now, it’s slow, small, ‘low’-res and expensive. Better leave it be and wait for the dramatic price reduction at the next Apple Event. (Yes, I can feel it coming. Like the macs and iphones)

  • Luxlamf

    It’s such a shame. Sure, they will share more ipad minis than they can make, but this is only due to the fact that it’s APPLE we’re talking about.

    But they should have shown a sign of supremacy by lowering the prices. For 249 the ipad mini would have a waiting list until january. Would it interfere with the ipod touch? Sure, maybe a little. But for every ipod touch that you don’t sell, you’ll sell an ipad mini. And ipads generate more income via accessories, apps, books etc. Take my word for it: Apple prefers to sell an ipad instead of an ipod! But now, with a price above the 300 dollars mark and so close to the ipad 2 (spec-wise) nobody will buy the ipad because of its qualities.

    The only reason people will buy it will be:
    1. Christmas (I mean, your 6-year old needs something to play with right?)
    2. Uhh, duh, it’s Apple. No questions will be asked.
    3. Consumerism. I want. No, I NEED the newest product! Gimme!
    4. The only way to test it is to buy it! If I don’t like it, ebay will help me get rid of it!

    It’s a shame. I was willing to pay 299. I mean, everybody has about 250 bucks on their account, so why not? If you don’t have an ipad… go for it! But now, it’s slow, small, ‘low’-res and expensive. Better leave it be and wait for the dramatic price reduction at the next Apple Event. (Yes, I can feel it coming. Like the macs and iphones)

    I felt the same way, I figured $229 or $259 and I would pre order one right away and just have it, but $329 feels a bit much for something I just dont need when I have a MAcbook pro, iPad2 Itouch Ipods etc… I think Apple is Wrong here
    with this pricing, $299 although not that much less would have had me pondering a few minutes and bought one.

  • OMFGitsJUSTIN

    I’m thinking it’s more a confusing device. Too big for a phone, too small for a usable input/browsing device. Neither fish nor fowl. I don’t think it’s an accident that SJ didn’t support a smaller iPad.

    Actually SJ did support a smaller ipad. He was using a 7inch tablet and enjoyed the size.

    “An email discussed during the Apple-Samsung trial last week revealed that Steve Jobs was not entirely opposed to the idea of a 7-inch tablet, which could be more evidence that an iPad mini is on its way.

    The email was sent from Eddie Cue, Apple senior vice president of Internet software and services, to several others in the Cupertino company’s leadership, including current Chief Executive Tim Cook.

    In it, Cue said that after trying a 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab, he believed there was a market for tablets of that size, and that Apple should go after it.”

    -LA TIMES

  • OMFGitsJUSTIN

    Apple could NEVER sell the mini for $200?! Think about it. Amazon sells the kindle for $199 (plastic with no cameras) and they break even each tablet they sell. no profit. Also, the iPod would then be more expensive than an Ipad. That wouldn’t make sense.

  • Boris Terekidi

    Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 have much much better specs and better screens. And they cost a whooping $130 less than iPad Mini. Don’t get me wrong, i love Apple, i have tons of new tech from them (15″MBP with retina, iPhone5, iMac, iPad3), but with Mini – i think Apple missed the mark… completely. It’s WAY too expensive for what it is (which is a shrunk down iPad2).

  • Matthew Gonzales Landry

    I have a hard time understanding how a guy who writes about Apple on an Apple-related blog doesn’t realize that Apple rarely ever sacrifices margin for marketshare. Name an instance where they have done that? Name a time they didn’t feel confident they couldn’t outmatch competition on quality and value over dropping their pants on price?

    Android tablets and Amazon are in a race to the bottom. If they make it up on services, great. But they probably won’t. Apple would never enter that fray. They’ll deliver the thinnest, lightest, longest-battery tablet with the most apps and best brand in the business. And you’re ‘confused’ they didn’t sell it at cost? Absurd.

    So Apple dropped the price of the original iPhone just out of the kindness of their hearts? Or maybe they wanted better numbers?

  • Matthew Gonzales Landry

    It’s simple. This is called a “me too” product. Its existence isn’t justified by anything other than Apple wanted a piece of the sub $350 pie. The thing is, this product wouldn’t hold up if it wasn’t up against a $400 iPad 3. Apple had to artificially inject value in the iPad mini by keeping the shitty iPad 2 in the $400 spot. Who in their sane mind would pay more for a bigger tablet with less enhancements? Who would pay $70 more for a retina display? Everybody.

    I’m saying it: the iPad mini sucks. Bad.

  • vx117

    So much for the iPad Mini. Charging extra for old outdated hardware. An A5 processor and a low resolution screen compared to its competitors. Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD beats it hands down in value and hardware. Why par more for less, when you can pay less for more? People use your heads! Of course this will sell well because to many it will be a cheaper ipad… <.< Who doesn’t want an iPad right? That Apple Logo is worth pure gold to them. smh

  • vx117

    Name an instance where they have done that? Name a time they didn’t feel confident they couldn’t outmatch competition on quality and value over dropping their pants on price?

    Android tablets and Amazon are in a race to the bottom.

    Yeah, Apple makes money off of people who don’t use their heads. Of course they’ll be more than happy to shell out a lot more for old hardware. That totally makes sense right?

    And race to the bottom? Where do you get that idea from? Ever since the introduction of the Kindle Fire and recently the Nexus 7, Apple’s tablet share has decreased significantly from 81% to now 51%. That trend is likely to go on down the road. Apple’s influence is winding down. How is this happening? Costs. The margins that Apple is selling iPads on is ultimately its downfall. iPads simply can’t compete with Android tablets in terms of cost or for some tablets, hardware.

  • Drmstix303

    What I’m confused about is how does the iPad Mini have Siri, but not the iPad 2. They have the same A5 chip!

  • Adrian Galli

    Over analyzed.

    Incidentally, “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…” is exactly what Steve Jobs did when he introduced the iPhone.

  • ScotHibb

    I think they were just racing to get as many products on the market in case Romney gets elected and “shuts down big bad China” which would have made the iPad 4 $10,000! HAAAAA!

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for over two years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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