iPad mini and iPad 4: Apple has muddied the waters

iPad mini and iPad 4: Apple has muddied the waters

Summary: Apple's worst kept secret is now official: the iPad mini is here. But the unexpected introduction of the iPad 4 alongside the new smaller device could muddy the waters for potential Apple tablet buyers.

TOPICS: Apple, iPad, Mobility, Tablets

Before the start of 2012 if you wanted to buy a tablet, your choices were pretty simple: you could buy an iPad or you could buy one of the Android pretenders to the throne, most likely a Samsung Galaxy Tab of some sort. Most people chose one of the two iPads available.

Apple iPad mini
The Apple iPad mini was unveiled on Tuesday. Image: James Martin/CNET

Fast forward to mid-2012 and the third-generation 'new iPad' hits the streets, adding to the options, but it was still relatively straight forward as Apple took the first generation iPad out of circulation. Naturally you still had to choose what storage size you wanted, but that was all.

But just seven months later, we have the fourth-gen iPad and the introduction of the iPad mini.

Apple is trying to keep your buying options as straight forward as possible by withdrawing the third-gen iPad, but there's no doubt that there will be a few (potentially a few million?) irritated iPad 3 owners as result of such a quick refresh of the device.

In fact, for the next week or so, as a result of the announcements, the only brand new iPad you can buy from its online store is the iPad 2.

Failing to lead?

However, for me the most interesting thing about the announcements on Wednesday wasn't the hardware. Sure, the faster processor, higher res screen and expanded LTE support is nice: an evolutionary refresh but not a revolutionary one.

What's more interesting is the way in which Apple now seems to be failing to lead the market in the way it once did, and is instead reacting to developments - rather than driving them.

Apple's plan wasn't to introduce a 7.x-inch tablet; it only did it once it saw just how successful the form factor could be with the likes of the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 - and more importantly how many potential sales it was missing out on.

The introduction of the mini also potentially puts buyers to the test too. Do you shell out £249 for a 32GB iPod Touch, £269 for the 16GB iPad mini, £329 for the 16GB iPad 2 or £399 for the equivalent iPad 4? That's a crowded line up - a lot of products at a lot of price points.

Which is better? Do they all do the same things? Why even consider buying an iPad 2 if the iPad 4 is only £70 more? These are all very obvious questions that people will be thinking and asking in Apple stores around the world.

To me a company that has faith in its sales continuing to climb does not introduce a totally unexpected revamp seven months after its last launch. The strange thing here is that looking at Apple's recent financial statements, sales of its iPad weren't falling.

Whatever the reason, to me it doesn't smack of confidence, which isn't a position we're used to seeing Apple in.

Topics: Apple, iPad, Mobility, Tablets

Ben Woods

About Ben Woods

With several years' experience covering everything in the world of telecoms and mobility, Ben's your man if it involves a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other piece of tech small enough to carry around with you.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • "just how successful the form factor could be with the likes of the ...

    Kindle Fire and Nexus 7"

    Well, it is strange to talk about "success" with Kindle Fire which sold six million and Nexus 7 with its million unit sales, comparing to iPad which sold over hundred million almost month ago and is selling at up to eighty million units per year tempo without even iPad mini available.
    • kindle fire

      100 million over 3 generations. Just started second generation of kindle fire units.
      • So?

        Have they sold 60 million for those two generations already?
        If not, why? It's cheaper...
    • TOPIC

      But not all are in that budget my friend !!!
      Selena Texana
      • To be honest... people are just trying to find fault now.

        You're quite correct there are two distinct price points - apple and Samsung's 7 inchers, and amazon and google's 7incher's. But what you get is different. I have a Nexus. It cost me £200 and a comparable iPad mini would cost me £70 more. However the extra battery life alone would be worth that if I were buying now. My ipad 2 claims 10 hours Wi-Fi and realistically does somewhere in that region - somewhere between 9/10... well it did on iOS 5. My Nexus tells me it'll do 8 - similar usage gives me around 6 and a half. If the ipad mini manages to live up to it's claims as me previous one did then it'd be a worthy upgrade. Plus all the kit and larger screen and such.

        However my nexus is still a great device, but both it and the cheaper Amazon Kindle fire are built down to a price. There's nothing wrong with this - it gives more choice, but a direct comparison just isn't fair on either device, and it's beneath companies such as Apple to compare them in their keynotes.

        This time however the criticism over apple releases has surprised me - I too was underwhelmed by the i5, the iPad 3 was pretty underwhelming also. However people are now annoyed that they actually listened to their customers for once and made a 7" and gave an xchip and proper 4G to their iPads. It really is just trying to find faults - there's nothing about the mini to poke at as a device, so people are highlighting that the fact someone else did it first. Well as others have said apple didn't invent the tablet either, or the computer, or the phone. Credit where it's due - we only have their word for it, but if it lives up to the spec's they've offered it's a very solid higher end device.

        As for the iPad 4thG - only with Apple couple people be whining that they no longer have the latest thing as a fashion statement. if you got it in the last month you can upgrade, if not, you bought the right device for you at the time.

        There are lots of other companies out there; Tech journalists in particular ned to stop relying on apple to change the world for them. Sometimes they should just make product people want instead of telling them what they want.
  • Ben Says

    "but there's no doubt that there will be a few (potentially a few million?) irritated iPad 3 owners as result of such a quick refresh of the device."

    Funny how many fanboys cosumers and fanboy bloggers were complaining about how fast android magnufacturers release new devices. Now almighty and holy Apple is doing the same to them. lol I wonder what kind of outrage this will spark? Probably Zero, since these people will eat anything fed by the almighty.
    • I know what you mean

      There won't be an outrage as everyone knows technology changes every 6 months and that is acceptable. Unlike the android fragmentation ecosphere where each android manufacturer releases a new model every 2 months with the only change being something small.
    • topic

      But there is a difference with Android you can root it and change everything .
      Selena Texana
  • Don't choose Apple

    If there is intrinsic justice in the universe, having to make a choice will prompt some Apple customers into actually making a choice -- and check some of the choices first.

    iPad Mini is grossly over-priced against comparable devices, so much so that nobody who bothers to check could fail to see this fact.
    Tim Acheson
    • Yes Choose Apple

      Hey iHater Tim Acheson! Just to follow up on your stellar comments that Apple's customers always has a choice. Get the best (Apple) or get something that is "just good enough" (Google). That is choice dude!
      • Or get something that will be obsolete in 9 months.

        The Surface is destined to turn into a KinZune. I am buying 4 iPad mini's. Christmas shopping has never been easier.
        • No Zune, No Kin...

          ...but can't wait to get a Surface. Your username says it all. You don't even look at what's out there, you just have religious level devotion to one brand. If that works for you, preach on.
      • Any justification

        or are you just spouting your love for apple again. Bit boring now. Defending apple to the death with nothing more than "i love apple so you should too"? Way to go, that never gets boring.

        You give the average isheep a bad name.
        Little Old Man
      • Reason required

        As with any Apple fanboi I encounter, I argue them to give a TECHNICAL reason why their iDevice is sooooo much better, other than "I just say so". I've never had a reply yet. Its subjective, I think anyone who understands what happens inside of the device can see Apple isn't that great, its OK just not amazing.
        Dave Derrick
        • Technical reason

          Define "technical reason" first and I will answer. :)

          Because, my experience shows that "technical reason" means one thing for someone and another thing for someone else.
          • Technical specs

            Any part of the technical specs of both devices will do, OS features, hardware design, your choice. Simply saying Apple is "the best" is subjective not objective.
            Dave Derrick
    • I got a better idea

      How about each person chooses what they like.
      Shameer Mulji
  • No, they have improved their iOS Ecosystem

    I've been waiting for the iPad Mini for over two years. I have the original iPad (now my kitchen iPad), an iPad 3, an iPhone, and soon an iPad Mini. The iPhone is great as a telephone and to use certain application but its screen it too small to be functional for many things; web browsing, Numbers, and Pages come immediately to mind. The iPad is great, at home, on the couch but too large to be conveniently carried daily. Now I have access to a usable screen size and access to all the applications I've paid for and am familiar with pretty much everywhere. Also the build quality will be a reoccurring pleasure whenever I use it. I would have preferred it to have a retina display.

    This is an excellent addition to their iOS line up as it gives the buyer the ability to make a more optimal choice. What if television manufacturers didn't make a 32 inch model and that fit perfectly in your bedroom or Manhattan living room?
    • great go buy 4 of them

      great go buy 4 of them !!! lol
      Selena Texana
      • Moron

        Nothing intelligent to add to the conversation I see.