The iPad mini is slated for release on Friday, and reactions are mixed: some see it as the device that finally takes the iPad line to iPhone-like mainstream popularity, while others see it as a shrunken down iPad 2 that can’t really compete with the competition in either specs or price.
So which will it be? To help predict, it might help to go back to the first “mini” sized iDevice Apple released: the iPod mini. Before that, there was just the iPod, shipping 1.5 million in a year. In 2004? The iPod mini helped increase the number of iPods sold by five times as many.
Dan Frommer over at SplatF put together this interesting graph illustrating the “iPod Mini” effect. He concludes:
That multiplier is probably not going to happen here: Apple has already shipped 58 million iPads over the past year, and I’m not sure Foxconn could even make 300 million iPads over the next year if Apple asked it to. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the iPad mini at least helped Apple double iPad sales year-over-year by the time supply and demand is in sync.
There are many reasons why the iPad isn’t the iPod all over again, or at least not exactly the same story. These range from competition to supply constraints to overall growth of the mobile device market to Apple’s already massive popularity. But I think it’s safe to say the iPad mini is going to be huge for Apple — and huge for Tim Cook’s prediction that the tablet market will outgrow the PC market.
Ultimately, Frommer sees the iPad mini becoming the “real” iPad for most people, with the iPad being like the iPod Clasic.
I’m not sure I’d go that far, but it seems pretty obvious that there are a lot of people who would rather a smaller, cheaper, lighter iPad than the more advanced “classic” model. It all comes down to how you view the iPad. Is it a laptop replacement? You want an iPad proper. But if you mostly want it for e-reading and media, the iPad mini is probably the one for you.