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 96.

    I am still not sure what the point of tablets are. At work we bought a bunch of them (managers wanted them) and guess what, no one uses them . I tried to watch a film on one before but its awkward, my iPhone did as good a job. The samller form factor does seem like a better idea but I still am not sure what real use it is!

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    I ditched Apple after my ipod touch so quickly became 'out of date' and unable to download the latest apps as i am one to keep my tech for as long as possible. I now have a Nexus 7 which despite a few minor build quality issues has been excellent for £199. Sure it has no rear facing camera and has clearly been made on a budget but assuming the ipad mini is well made-i can understand their pricing

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    The tablet market has only recently started. Whereas PC's have been around for 35 years, the first iPad only arrived on April 3, 2010. That's only 2.5 years. So far, tablets have realized only a fraction of what they will be able to do. I believe the true power of the tablet will emerge when a complete Windows-based model arrives, with 256 GB SSD, 8 GB RAM, multi-Wi-Di & USB 3.0.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    Given the newest iPod Touch models start at £249, I think people were deluding themselves in thinking the iPad Mini would come in below that.

    And to those complaining that their 6-month old iPad is now obsolete - it's not. It's just a bit slower than the new one.You can still use it exactly the same as you could yesterday! I still happily use my first generation iPad on iOS 5. It's not obsolete.

  • 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.


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