Android Makers (And Even The 10-Inch iPad) Are Killing Themselves Trying To Compete With iPad Mini

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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.

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  • Steffen Jobbs

    How can there be any brand loyalty when there are consumers out there who only buy stuff because it’s cheap. There must be a hundred Android tablet vendors churning out devices whether there’s a need for them or not. The only differentiation will be a cheaper price than the next guy since most of the components and specs are alike. And they all probably have horrible after-sale customer service. Do those companies that offer rock-bottom prices on tablets even offer service contracts?

  • Garion

    So, John, to sum up your words about the iPad Mini: Your entry-level 16GB iPad mini gets all of your spare reading time, despite the fact that “it’s a deeply disappointing product that most people should think twice about buying” ? Did I get that right?

  • FutureMedia

    John, are you saying the October ’12 iPad 4 upgrade to the A6X processor, HD FaceTime camera, improved communications tech, better color gamut, and Lightning connector wasn’t a major upgrade? Based on my extensive experience with all iPads, I declare it is noticeably significantly faster. And what about the 128 GB model added in February I just bought last week? I respectfully disagree with your assessment the iPad hasn’t had a major upgrade in over a year. And I certainly would never consider buying a non-retina anything ever.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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