The competition has been getting stronger. Despite continued domination by Apple in the tablet market with their single-size offering, rumors are spreading that they are considering a smaller version of the iPad to compete with the Amazon, Google, and Microsoft amongst others going after the cheaper tablet marketing.
This would be a mistake.
Instead of taking on the Google Nexus 7 (which started shipping last week), the Amazon Kindle Fire (with a new version expected in the 4th quarter this year), and other offerings with Android and Microsoft software, an “iPad mini” would do more to cannibalize their current base of users. Depending on whose numbers you use, the tablet market is comprised of 60%-70% iPads today. There are dozens of choices available for much less than the $499 current price for a basic iPad. There are dozens of choices for people looking for a smaller, more portable device.
“There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touch screen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them,” Jobs said in a conference call with Wall Street analysts in 2010. “This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.”
Bringing on an iPad mini would increase their market share; there is very little doubt about that. It would, however, not do much to increase their top line revenue or bottom line profits because people who today and tomorrow are willing to save up to shell out more money and who are willing to suffer through carrying the “bulky” iPad will shift towards the smaller version. People who buy something other than an iPad today often do so because it’s something other than an iPad. A smaller version will not make them sway; many wouldn’t buy an Apple product out of sheer principal regardless of the size or price.
Apple is in great shape in the tablet market today and there’s no reason to believe that an increase in competition will change that. Steve Jobs likely would not have supported this idea. If Apple does as the rumors suggest, it may be the first mistake of a post-Jobs Apple that the company makes.
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“Tablets” image courtesy of Shutterstock.