iPad Mini unveiled by Apple as it enters small tablet market

Apple iPad Mini The iPad Mini is a sign Apple is following the competition, one analyst said

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Apple has unveiled its widely-anticipated 7.9in (20.1cm) tablet, the iPad Mini.

The device, which is 7.2mm (0.3in) thick and weighs 0.68lbs (0.3kg), was announced at an event in California.

The entry wi-fi-only model, with 16GB storage, will cost £269 in the UK and be available on 2 November.

The iPad Mini will compete directly with cheaper similar-sized tablets recently launched by Google, Amazon, Samsung and others.

Apple's vice-president of marketing Phil Schiller told attendees that the device was 23% thinner and 53% lighter than the third-generation iPad, which was released in March this year.

Change of heart

The iPad Mini launch ends years of speculation that Apple was considering launching a new, smaller version of its bestselling iPad range.

In 2010, late founder Steve Jobs described 7in tablets as being "too small".

However, the company's apparent change of heart comes in the face of mounting pressure from its closest competitors, who already offer smaller - and crucially, cheaper - products.

In the UK, both Amazon's new 7in Kindle Fire HD and Google's Nexus 7 cost £159.

During the presentation, Mr Schiller stressed the importance of being able to hold the device in one hand - a nod to the more travel-friendly appeal of the smaller devices.

However, Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum, said he had expected the iPad Mini to be more competitively priced.

"We got a mix of a bit of new Apple and bit of old Apple in the same announcement," he told the BBC.

Tablets, big and small, are crowding out the PC, with sales of personal computers down 8% on a year ago.

In 2010 when the iPad was launched many mocked it as a plaything - but Apple, Google and even Microsoft believe the future of their industry is tablet-shaped.

"This is new for Apple to be responding to competitors instead of pioneering their own way.

"It's old Apple as they've gone into this market with a premium pricing strategy.

"At the moment this doesn't place a lot of pressure on the Kindle Fire or the Nexus 7."

He added that the iPad Mini was an indicator that Apple might be nervous about losing its control over a market which it has dominated in recent years.

During the nineties, Apple found itself outpaced in the home computer market by Microsoft and Windows-powered computers - a period of the company's history it will be conscious to avoid repeating.

"The popularity of the Kindle e-reader and the Android smartphones made consumers aware of Amazon content and Google services," said Francisco Jeronimo, research manager at consultants IDC.

"The low price points of the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire have been attracting consumers looking for more affordable devices that also come with the content and services they already use or want."

But he added: "This new product from Apple will disrupt the market again. The iPad Mini is now the new category killer."

The other iPad Mini wi-fi-only models will have a recommended retail price of £349 for 32GB and £429 for 64GB.

Apple's Phil Schiller with new iPad Mini The iPad Mini is expected to boost Apple's dominance of the tablet market

The devices supporting 3G and 4G data connections would be released "a couple of weeks" later, the company said. They will be priced at £369 for 16GB, £449 for 32GB and £529 for 64GB.

'Kick in the face'

Apple also announced a lower-key upgrade for the full-sized iPad. Calling it the "fourth generation" iPad, Mr Schiller said its new A6X chip meant it had twice the CPU (central processing unit) power of the third-generation model.

Paddy Smith, online editor for Stuff.tv, said some Apple users might see the iPad upgrade as a "kick in the face" as the previous model was just seven months old.

"I think a lot of people will be upset to see a new full size iPad so soon," he told the BBC.

"For many people that represents a pretty major purchase, something you wouldn't want to do more than once a year."

Stuff.tv's Mr Smith agreed that Christmas shoppers could be hesitant.

"I think if they look at the competition and they see that the Google Nexus 7 is £100 cheaper it's going to be hard to ignore that - unless you're buying for a hardcore Apple fan."

However, IDC predicted that the new device would boost Apple's already dominant position in the tablet market.

It forecast that Apple would hold a 68% share of the market in 2012, compared to 29% for Android tablets.

Both would fall off slightly next year with the launch of Windows 8 tablets, IDC said.

The firm also announced upgrades to its Macbook Pro, iMac and Mac Mini ranges of computers.

Its new iMac machines have been made 80% thinner at the edges than previous models, Mr Schiller said.

7-inch tablets compared

Device Vital information What the experts say

Apple iPad Mini

Apple iPad Mini

• UK Release: 2 November

• Operating system: iOS6

• Camera: Front, 1.2MP; back, 5MP

• Cost: £269 • Full specification

"We'd go as far as saying it's our favourite iPad yet. The smaller size, thinner shape and lighter weight makes for a much better mobile experience. The main sticking point, however, is price."

- T3

Acer Iconia Tab A110

Acer Iconia Tab A110

• UK Release: 30 October

• Operating system: Android Jelly Bean

• Camera: 2MP

• Cost: £179 • Full specification

"There are several areas where the A110 loses out to its cheaper rivals. The most obvious of its weaknesses is the screen, which is poor by any standards." -PC Pro

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

• UK Release: 25 October

• Operating system: Android Ice Cream Sandwich

• Camera: 1.3MP

• Cost: £159 • Full specification

"It offers a simple and uncomplicated experience through and through, and is built to support the digital media it aims to sell you, with an excellent screen." -TechRadar

Google Asus Nexus 7

Google Nexus 7

• UK Release: Out now

• Operating system: Android Jelly Bean

• Camera: 1.3MP

• Cost: £159 • Full specification

"It's a well-designed, powerful, and useful product, with lots of bells and whistles that makes it feel like a device that should be more expensive than it is." -The Verge

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2

Samsung Galaxy Tab 2

• UK Release: Out now

• Operating system: Android Ice Cream Sandwich

• Camera: Back, 3MP; front, VGA

• Cost: £199 • Full specification

"For £200 the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is a decent tablet. It boasts a sturdy, visually pleasing design and decent battery life. The big problem, however, is that the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 isn't as good as Google's Nexus." -The Inquirer


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  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    I have both an IPad 1 and a Nexus 7 and though the Android system is better by far, I still use my iPad a lot more because I like the larger screen size. I also happily own an android phone after putting up with my iPhone's flakiness for too long. So for me I would rather have Android on a larger device than Apple on a smaller one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    I love the BBC to bits but I'm starting to think the tech section is sponsored by Apple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Its unsettling to know that innovation at one of the most innovative companies in the world has reduced to adjusting the size of existing products in trying to conform to standards set by the competition. Maybe next time, Apple can make the iphone 5 slightly bigger and just have both these devices meet each other half way. Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    At some point people will wake up and realise that working just to earn money or worse borrow it to spend on endless consumer tat is dim. The art of proper communication and interaction is gone as an entire generation is lost gazing blankly at a screen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    I consider it as a good technology update by Apple as this will further strength Apple's existing customers believe on Apple products and to have another reason to stick with its products, but on the contrary other mini Tablets like Google or Samsung are still ahead in term of providing diversified technological features, Anyhow all the best to Apple. Thanks,

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    This isn't advertising for Apple - I wouldn't say they come out particularly well in the comparisions with the Kindle or Google tablets, or in some of the 'expert' comments. At the same time, it is a worthy story, since it's a major new product (and clashes with their claim to be innovators)

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    If this is an impartial look i'd hate to see what you would consider to be a biased report @49

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    36. dungolfin
    "The spec's might be getting better but they're not grabbing our imagination."

    Aye, and there's the rub - Apple make reasonable products, but people aren't buying into that. They're buying a "meme" they can attach themselves to - helped by egregious product-placement like this article. More innovative products than this irritating orthodoxy have always been on the market.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Obviously i clicked it so i could complain about the blatant free advertising for Apple in the place where a real newsworthy report should have been

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    I find most comments too harsh on Apple. It was and is a company creating inspiring and very user friendly technology. But there is too much hype. While all the media concentrate on the launch of a mediocre tablet, there is no interest at all for its other product launches. The new ultra thin iMac should be the real news. A innovative product looking great, leaving the concurrents years behind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    I don't know why Apple insist on continuously creating so-called 'media' devices that don't use a 16x9 resolution, when most video media nowadays is 16x9 - it really doesn't make any sense.
    Still, I expect it will sell well amongst those people who want an over-priced, under-powered machine, just because of it's manufacturer.
    I am looking for a decent tablet - but will steer clear of this trash!

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Not sure of Apples's logic here. Yes, it's nice and light,but they should have put a 1600x900 display on it and price starting at 199.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Oh! Woo-hoo! The latest gizmo!

    But how could my website become such a corporate shill?

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    Rob (48) - it isn't newsworthy to you but it does offer an impartial look at the tablet technology on offer for those who may be eager to buy or who may have already bought Apple recently and are disappointed with the speed that their device is already out of date.

    The article is titled "iPad Mini unveiled by Apple as it enters small tablet market" Why click and read if you're not interested?

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Serious question! Why is this considered news worthy? It is bad enough that the site has 20 versions of the BBC Savillegate Saga without space for real news being taken up with this blatant free advertising for Apple. Loosing faith and trust in the integrity of the BBC minute by minute

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Apple products are expensive, but they work extremely well, are very secure and are indeed fashion accessories. But what about designer clothes or handbags; If you work hard then you can spend your money on whatever materialistic objects that make you happy.
    After so many previous technical innovations, now everyone expects more and not just improvements to the existing products.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    Does it come with a nail file?

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Never bought Apple never will. Just a geeks toy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    I found it very interesting that Apple announced in the Keynote they have paid over $6.5bn to developers. It seems the so called "walled garden" and 70/30 split is working out quite nicely for all involved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    I already have this, it's called an iPod touch. I don't get it, Apple are supposed to be "revolutionary". All I see is more of the same, yet people keep gobbling it all up. What an odd world we are in.


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