Although it’s been less than a year since it’s debut, and though it was widely criticized at its debut for a beefy $329 price tag and a low-resolution display, the iPad mini has quickly become the one 7-inch tablet to rule them all.
A new supplier report out of Asia puts the iPad mini’s triumph into sharp relief. Not only is the iPad mini pretty much the only 7-inch tablet that isn’t running headfirst down a profitability cliff in a race to crater at the bottom, it’s actually putting iPad sales to the knife.
Let’s take these one at a time. First of all, Digitimes reports that while 7-inch tablet popularity continues to rise with consumers, ruthless competition amongst Android device makers has seen the price of a 7-inch tablet drop to the point where 7-inch tablets (save Apple’s!) have almost no brand recognition or loyalty. They are such a commodity in the minds of consumers that new tablet owners won’t even buy a case to protect their purchase!
Contrast that with the iPad mini. The iPad mini has a smaller profit margin than any other major Apple product, but at least it’s making a profit. And iPad mini accessory sales are through the roof. No one’s commoditizing the mini.
Of course, the success of the iPad mini is coming at the expense of the iPad Senior. According to new estimates from Digitimes again, of the 19.5 million iPads sold in Apple’s second quarter, 12.5 million were iPad minis. 65% of all iPads sold are now minis.
There’s a couple of points to keep in mind when analysing those numbers. First of all, Apple’s unlikely sweating them: Cupertino’s philosophy has always been that they don’t care about cannibalizing their own product categories. Second, the iPad hasn’t seen a major upgrade for over a year, while the iPad mini was released only around half a year ago: sales are slowing on the bigger iPad because the product has reached its end-of-cycle.
But I have to say, this data does seem to be in-line with my own experiences with the mini. Anyone remember when I said the iPad mini’s crappy display was a deal breaker, and you should wait until the second-generation? Well, the screen is crappy… but the device is so much slimmer and lighter and smaller that, seven months later, my 64GB third-gen iPad with LTE is collecting spiders while my entry-level 16GB iPad mini gets all of my spare reading time. For all its faults, the iPad mini is simply a better device for people who want a tablet as an e-reader more than a laptop replacement, and that’s mostly everyone.