Apple is yet to officially announce the release of the much awaited iPad Mini but the internet is abuzz with rumours, leaked pictures and videos. Prominent blogs and publishing platforms have been speculating the iPad Mini’s price, features, release date and how it could potentially be a game changer for Apple and the tablet markets worldwide.
The leaked pictures from a 9to5Mac researcher’s twitter feed support claims that the iPad Mini will have a 7.85 inch screen, much smaller than the 9.7 inch display on iPad 3. Popular tech blog techradar also reported on speculations regarding the possibility of iPad Mini having a Retina Display, similar to iPad 3 and iPhone 5. In comparison, Amazon’s Kindle Hire HD and Google Nexus 7 have 7 inch HD displays.
iPad Mini’s leaked pictures also show that it has Apple’s new Lightning Connector which debuted with iPhone 5. The model in the picture is apparently a 32 GB variant.
[source: Sonny Dickson]
It has a rear facing camera and an aluminum casing reminiscent to the full blown iPad. If the Mini also has a front facing camera, it could become one of the most feature packed tab in its segment.
Apple is known to be very secretive about its new products and announcements. The company has not yet confirmed any iPad Mini rumours, its launch or even its existence. However leaked reports have found their way online ahead of most recent product launches. In 2010, an Apple engineer famously forgot a prototype of the iPhone 4 before its launch.
Similarly the internet was flooded with leaked pictures of iPhone 5 ahead of its recent launch. If the rumours about iPad Mini are true, the device could be a game changer for the world’s most valued company.
According to a Pew Research Center report, Apple’s share in the tablet market has dropped considerably since 2010-11.
In US alone, Apple dominated with an 81% share in the total tablets shipped in 2011. Only 15% were android based devices and the rest 4% were based on other platforms. By 2012, Apple’s share tanked and dropped to 52% while shipments of android devices rose to 48%.
What makes this drop in Apple’s market share eye opening is that these numbers are from a survey that was conducted before the launch of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD or the Google Nexus 7.
Amazon said in a press release in August that Kindle Fire commanded a 22% share in the US tablet market, reported Forbes. The e-tailer unveiled new additions to the Kindle Fire family with competitive prices starting from $199.
Apple has never marketed itself as a company that makes products that are less expensive. There is little doubt that Apple’s 9.7 inch iPad has more features and delivers an unmatched user experience as compared to cheaper alternatives. However the pricing and market positioning of 7 inch tablets including Samsung’s Galaxy tab may have grabbed iPad’s market share.
The latest round of rumours suggests that an October launch is likely for the iPad Mini. If that happens, Apple will foray into a cheaper segment of the tablet market. A less expensive price tag will allow the iPad Mini to fit within the wish list of tech fans with a budget not lavish enough to splurge on the full blown iPad 3.
A cheaper iPad Mini will also equip Apple to gain a foothold in emerging tablet markets like India where the average sale value of tablets is approximately Rs. 13,000. A recent study showed that tablet shipments in India grew 56% in Q2 2012.
With iPad 3 price tags exceeding Rs. 30,000, Apple was left with 12.3%, or the 3rd highest market share.
Besides the ever important price factor, a smaller iPad will also push its way into pleasing consumers who thought that a 9.7 inch tablet was not as mobile as they preferred it to be. The Mini’s smaller frame will see it fitting easily into oversized pockets and handbags.
Beyond the sugar coated rumours there is also a looming worry for Apple that a cheaper iPad Mini could fragment its core product set and possibly eat into sales of the iPad. Commentators think that this is a risk that Apple will have to take if it wants to stop android based devices chipping away into its dropping market share.
If iPad Mini’s launch actually happens in October, the timing will be as ripe as it could get. The holiday season is looming in key western markets.