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
    0

    Comment number 262.

    @257. flipmode
    You'll certainly find out whey they're cheaper...

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 261.

    I can't wait.

    The iFan who sits next to me on the train every morning already pulls out an iPhone 4s and an iPhone 5 and the latest iPad.

    When he then rummages around in his bag to find his iPad Mini, I won't be able to stop myself laughing.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 260.

    Can we get down to the real reason that there are corporate company fans? Granted, long ago, Apple Mac computers were far better for design etc due to the lack of applications for Windows, and they have a better looking GUI. Why, though, do we need fanboyism hate on everything? Apple vs Windows. Apple vs Google. Xbox vs Playstation. etc.. It just baffles me.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 259.

    Here's an obligatory snarky comment now go and buy what you want.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 258.

    @255. Gio
    No worries mate, I didn't take it that way :-)

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 257.

    Don't waste your cash on one of these, try the Nexus 7 or Kindle pad , compare them to the "iwastemoney" , you'll see they're better and cheaper.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 256.

    Google, Samsung and Acer should sue Apple for design infringement...after all it is a smaller size and looks just like one of theirs

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 255.

    251. GreyAreaUK
    No problem - apologies by the way as, on reading my comment back, it sounds a bit aggressive in my head (the "joys" of instance response without pausing for thought...)

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 254.

    234.
    GreyAreaUK

    Android version names are all puddings, and, critically alphabetical. It takes about 1 IQ point more to work it out..

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 253.

    Is this the new iphone brick or the latest replcement for the PC? No it's just another gadget toy that is useless for typing and anything serious that only those with money to waste would buy.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 252.

    Hopefully they will go the way of the trackball and other similarly niche toys. I am completely naffed off with the Windows 8 tablet interface being rammed down my throat on my dual screen keyboard and mouse work PC. Ballmer deserves to go to hell.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 251.

    @245. Gio
    @244. Batchy

    Ah, gotcha. I honestly didn't know that. FWIW, Apple are guilty of the same thing with Lion, Mountain Lion etc. I wish people would stick to version numbers, they're far easier to make sense of. Well, to me anyway.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 250.

    I really like Apple products. They're great quality products, very easy to use, virus-free, and family/elderly friendly - particularly their computers. I only wish I could afford them!

    This iPad, on the other hand, I do not like. It lacks imagination and is, frankly, only being produced because of Apple's fears of the market. It looks like a giant iPhone and the prices are laughable.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 249.

    I suppose with Apple its about status.

    I work with retailers and recently I was approached about defining requirements for putting Ipads into a well known high street store.

    The funny thing is the business could not tell me why they needed Ipads specifically rather than an alternative such as a widescreen pc.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 248.

    Gotta love the power of marketing, people frothing over these tablets which are style over substance (Apple being particularly adept at that market).

    Don't need one, not interested in one. Nor in this "always connected" lifestyle of vacuous bores.

    Apple's restrictive, bullying empire or Google's limited sell-your-personal-data-friendly version of Linux? What wonderful choice!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 247.

    At last, a kick up the bum for Apple. The Google Nexus is so much better!

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 246.

    Pretty typical of Apple in recent times. Late to the party and with an over-priced product, albeit one that their inexplicably loyal followers will flock to buy. After the iPhone that lost reception when you held it, and the map app with half the roads missing, can anyone guess what embarrassing design flaw this will be launched with?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 245.

    234. GreyAreaUK
    "Android's naming schemes are one of the things I don't like about it. At least with iOS you can tell which is older - iOS5 or iOS6? Easy. With Android on the other hand...Ice Cream Sandwich? Jelly Bean? Atrocious Aadvark? What the hell?"

    Er... It's in Alphabetical Order (plus there's a numbering scheme if you bother to check - Ice Cream Sandwich is 4.0, Jelly Bean is 4.1, etc)

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 244.

    Responce to 234.GreyAreaUK

    Android number their systems 2.3 Ginger bread, 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwitch 4.1 Jelly bean.

    Its all there on the specs of the products just in conversation ppl shorten it

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 243.

    Please tell me, just who can afford these expensive pieces of kit? I'd certainly not be happy for my kids walking about in public, it will attract the wrong sort of attention.....PARENTS / KIDS be warned!

 

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