Apple's iPad mini doesn't deserve a grand debut

Apple's iPad mini doesn't deserve a grand debut

Summary: The Apple lineologists are at it again as the iPad mini launches. The verdict is lukewarm. After all, people had to weigh an incremental iPad mini vs. electricity in some areas. Others just had to weigh a $329 starting price.

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TOPICS: iPad, Apple, Tablets
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appleline
Oh Joy! Another Apple line. Credit: CNET

Apple has launched the iPad mini at its retail stores and the news is---wait for it---that the lines aren't all that long.

Well, let's see. On the East Coast, folks are more worried about getting power back from that storm called Sandy. Others are trying to get into New York with little luck. Everywhere else, the lines are so-so at best. In other words, there's not a big rush for the iPad mini.

And there shouldn't be. The product isn't revolutionary, has a defined role and is saddled with a price that just doesn't scream value. In other words, if you want an iPad mini drop in an Apple store and get one, but don't expect to be the coolest person at a party. A week like this reorders the priorities a bit for but a select few.

Also: iPad mini goes on sale in UK; moderate excitement ensues | iPad mini launches in Hong Kong to lukewarm response | CNET: The iPad Mini launches in Sandy's wake

Among the factors behind a relatively quiet launch:

  • The iPad mini is incremental. There was no tablet death blow delivered by Apple.
  • The price seems high---$329. The iPad was revolutionary at $499 due to price, design and ecosystem. The iPad mini's price seems to be designed to get you to buy a larger version.
  • Apple is a large conventional company now. Why do those Samsung ads mocking Apple lines work? Because there's an element of truth to them. Apple isn't counter culture anymore.
  • You can preorder. If you wanted an iPad mini you would have preordered one already.
  • Not every Apple product is a home run. The iPad mini may not be a smashing success. That reality may be just fine with Apple, which is looking to boost the total addressable market for the iPad.

Nevertheless, the line analysis will continue. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster is an Apple lineologist. Here's his take, which has a bevy of excuses (highlighted by my bold italics) built in:

Amid Unique Circumstances, iPad Mini Lines Shorter Than 3rd Gen iPad Lines. We have counted iPad launch day lines at every launch since the first iPad in 2010. We believe that based on our count of 580 customers in line for the iPad Mini launch at the flagship 5th Avenue store, demand for the iPad Mini is initially in-line with our expectations. We believe that about 10% of the iPad Mini line may have been waiting for the 4th Gen iPad based on our survey work. As a comparison, the 3rd Gen iPad line in March of this year was 750 people at the flagship store. For this launch, we believe there is significant noise around the line data. First, we note that New York is currently facing unique circumstances due to Hurricane Sandy that are making transportation significantly more difficult for potential iPad Mini buyers. We also note that two of the five Apple Stores in New York are closed due to power outages. In Minneapolis, we note that outdoor customers (Uptown) are facing below 32 degree temperatures. For the Mall of America (MN) line of 35 customers, a more fair comparison would be the 3rd Gen iPad line, suggesting about a 50% decrease for the iPad Mini line. Despite these influences, we continue to feel comfortable with our 1-1.5 million iPad Mini launch weekend estimate and 5 million estimate for the December quarter.

In other words, it's cold outside. People lack power. The commute is hell. Why would you brave all that mess for an arguably overpriced tablet---even one made by Apple? Stay tuned for the next Samsung ad.

Topics: iPad, Apple, Tablets

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66 comments
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  • True

    Apple needed to do this. Whether it made a large impresion or not. Very rarely is Apple so late to a party that has been so widely accepted. Small 7 inch tablets have done well for Amazon and Google. However, this will be successful enough that Apple will make backs it's money and then some.
    mikes_phone_and_tab
    • Might have for Apple, too...

      Sadly, they introduced an 8" tablet (in as much as you don't count decimal points... the iPad is a 10"-class tablet, not a 9" tablet). Not as much what people wanted; the sweet spots are settling out at 7" and 10". We'll have to see if even Microsoft's odd move to 10.6" is a problem for people or not.

      That said, this probably does what it's supposed to do -- if you're absolutely convinced on a smaller tablet, but would much rather have an iPad, you'll buy one of these. If you don't care about which ecosystem you're marrying, you probably won't.
      Hazydave
      • With Apple entering smaller tablet market, the sweet point might move to ..

        ... 8" sizes.

        Current small lines is just confirmation of the fact that iPad mini is more mobile device than usual iPad, so it has most of sense when it is with cellular network. There are no such models on sale currently -- few weeks of waiting are needed.
        DDERSSS
      • The numbers fool you.

        Hazydave
        "Sadly, they introduced an 8" tablet (in as much as you don't count decimal points... the iPad is a 10"-class tablet, not a 9" tablet). Not as much what people wanted; the sweet spots are settling out at 7" and 10". We'll have to see if even Microsoft's odd move to 10.6" is a problem for people or not."

        NO no no! This IS a 7 inch tablet. The screen and overall tablet height is the same as the Nexus 7 (portrait orientation) . Because it had to have the iPad 2's 4:3 aspect ratio and 1024x768 resolution to be able to use the iPad 2 apps and meet cost constraints, Apple had to streach it to 7.9 inches to match the other 7 inch tablet's screen height. The screen width is an inch wider than the N7 screen and as wide as an N7 overall. The iPad mini's overall width is one half inch wider than the N7, a quarter of an inch on each side beyond the iPad mini's screen.

        As far as the 10 and 10.6 question remember, Apple's iPad aspect ratio is better, 4:3 like our 1960 TV sets and EVERYBODY ELSES tablet is widescreen with aspect ratios between 16:9 to 16:10 like our TV sets and computer screens for the last 5+ years.
        Old EE
        • Apple's iPad aspect ratio is better

          ((( "As far as the 10 and 10.6 question remember, Apple's iPad aspect ratio is better, 4:3 like our 1960 TV sets and EVERYBODY ELSES tablet is widescreen with aspect ratios between 16:9 to 16:10 like our TV sets and computer screens for the last 5+ years." )))

          The iPad's 4:3 aspect ratio is more versatile. Try surfing the web on a Surface in portrait orientation. It's like reading one of those overly tall deli menus. Books on the iPad are a pleasure to read, because they feel like books, and not newspaper columns. 16:9 is better for watching movies, but not much else.
          buddhistMonkey
          • iPad's Aspect Ratio

            "The iPad's 4:3 aspect ratio is more versatile." - good point.. Apple being Apple must have taken that into consideration..
            iPadCaseReviewDotCom
        • nope

          4:3 is good but 5:4 is better and 8:5 is optimal one.

          16:9 is terrible for any display unless it is for movies. But on tablets it works great because main things you do with tablets is to watch videos and photos. Reading website is great on that as well, because we dont live at 90's where website is designed to specific resolution. And nexus 7 has 1280x800 meaning it has more content on its screen than apples.
          Fri13
          • You're not going deep enough

            Tablets in a short (for tech) amount of time will become the defacto laptops for most people once they realize nearly everything they do while mobile can be done on them. Apple's eco-system with apps is deep enough to handle it. The Android market (though it's becoming better) currently doesn't.

            With apps for writing, blogging, web site management, video editing, audio editing, financial management, and a plethora of custom apps created for companies that get it, tablets are wheree the market is going especially considering how long their batteries last. With a bluetooth keyboard it's an ease to use for everything listed above. Also with 3/4G connectivity, the lack of large amounts of onboard storage aren't the holdbacks they would have been just a few years ago. Will it do everything for everyone? No, but for people whose needs are greater there are still full sized Intel/AMD laptops.

            I gave my son my MacBook Pro for college and haven't missed it yet. At the last MacWorld Expo, instead of dragging a laptop, HD camcorders, extra batteries, cables, hard drives, and so on, I did everything with an iPhone 4S (shooting video, recording audio), and edited everything from a 1st gen iPad. Left behind the 30 extra pounds and large Pelican case for a very small shoulder bag.
            Guy Serle
      • Same or similar size

        I saw a video on YouTube and they put a Kindle Fire back to back with a iPad mini. They were almost the same size. It has narrow side bezels and thats what makes the screen size larger. I think it will sell plenty and I'm going to buy one.
        marcandsebe
    • Do you remember the mp3 players?

      Apple was very late to that party, and we all know how it ended...
      herbapou
      • Very different venue

        Apple launched the current smartphone version.
        We are seeing how that is ending.....
        rhonin
        • the neverending story

          ((( "Apple launched the current smartphone version. We are seeing how that is ending....." )))

          ...with Apple as the world's most valuable company, making nearly three times as much profit from the iPhone as every other smartphone vendor in the world combined.
          buddhistMonkey
  • Apple apologist

    This article is a case study in Apple apologetics.

    Let's get real: demand for iPad Mini is noticeably lower than previous Apple products.

    Normal people did not expect iPad Mini to be hugely popular, because iPad Mini is just an iPad shrunken down slightly.
    Tim Acheson
    • And yet it is still selling out at Apple store across the land.

      Oh snap.
      Bruizer
      • Why Apple's iPad mini doesn't deserve a grand debut...

        because it's not a Microsoft product! LOL. Silly Apple haters.
        DontUseMicrosoftAtAll
      • Do you even check this stuff?

        The only mini that has sold out are the white models... You can pretty much get a black iPad Mini anywhere.
        slickjim
        • Oh and

          Most non apple retail stores only got 5 Minis and they were Taylor black.
          slickjim
    • Yeah...

      Let's get real...
      Normal people don't spend their time trolling where they have no interest.
      Back to the OP. So when the iPad mini sells a few million, handily outselling all other small form factor tablets, what does that say about all the others?
      The intelligent folk will wait until numbers are posted to avoid hoof-in-mouth foolishness.
      But cowboy Tim isn't one for honesty or nous.
      frogspaw
      • Prectice what you preach?

        First:

        "So when the iPad mini sells a few million, handily outselling all other small form factor tablets...."

        Then:

        "The intelligent folk will wait until numbers are posted to avoid hoof-in-mouth foolishness."


        Clearly you are not among "the intelligent folk".
        D.T.Long
      • Move that a decimal place

        If it only sells a few million, it's not going to outsell anyone. The Nexus 7 hit close to a million last month, and started out seven months ago at 500K (numbers released this week by Asustek's CFO, after some blogger guessed that they had only sold a million total). And Amazon did better than that with the Kindle Fire.

        Sure, Apple's doing better with the full sized iPad, still over 50% of worldwide tablet sales. But they won't keep the lead in 2013. It's simply not possible.
        Hazydave