iPad Mini? Nah, here comes the iBook

iPad Mini? Nah, here comes the iBook

Summary: Rumors are swirling about the iPad Mini that Apple will soon release upon the buying masses. For Apple to enter the previously shunned small tablet market there must be a valid business reason. Pushing the iBook store would be that reason, and with the new iBook tablet even more so.

TOPICS: Apple, iPad, Tablets

No company generates rumor-mongering and speculation like Apple. Whenever circumstances start pointing to a new Apple product, the pundits go mad with speculation. The rumor of a smaller iPad, or iPad Mini, has even hit the major news outlets. The pundits are weighing in with thoughts on what the little iPad will look like.


What few are discussing is why Apple might enter the small tablet space following the Nexus 7 by Google. Reviews of the Nexus 7 have been positive, and some believe Apple will enter that space to knock the Nexus 7 off its small tablet pinnacle.

See also: Will Apple really announce a thinner, lighter, and narrower iPad mini in Septermber?

You never know what is going on at Apple, but there is one business area where a smaller iPad not only makes sense but fits in with business at Apple. A smaller iPad would be perfect as an ebook reader, one that let Apple make a big push with its iBooks.

The iBooks have been around for a while, but haven't made a dent in the Amazon Kindle business. Even the Nexus 7, although a Google product, is no doubt resulting in lots of Kindle books being purchased from Amazon due to the Kindle app.

It makes good sense for Apple to release the smaller iPad to go after the ebook crowd. While the bigger iPad is a fine ebook reader, a smaller form factor is much better for reading books on the go.

Even though the smaller iPad would run the same apps as the bigger sibling, selling it as an ebook reader would give Apple the opportunity to really push its iBook content. I can see the ads now, happy people reading iBooks on the new little iPad. Apple could even call the new iPad the iBook. That would be a smart move.

The new iBook could be sold as a full iPad with benefits. Namely, the ability to take it everywhere and read the thousands of books in the Apple store. The iPad could be touted as the textbook device of choice and the iBook for more leisurely pursuits.

I can see the ads now, typical Apple fluff pushing the iBook as the best ebook reader on the planet. Oh, and it runs the millions of iPad apps, too. No genius required.

It would fit Apple's strategy like a glove, and I guarantee Apple would sell 10 million iBooks in just a few short months. Perhaps even by the holiday season.

Image credit: iMore

Topics: Apple, iPad, Tablets

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  • I'll say this opinion again. The main demographic for a rumored iPad mini

    is children. Yes, the rumored iPad mini is could be everything James states, for example, it could be an e-book reader.

    Grade schools (or primary schools) would be the educational market niche for this product.

    And, I suggest that this rumored iPad mini will replace the iPod Touch in Apple's product ecosystem in time.

    To recap, just like the iPod Touch was purchased for and used primarily by children and teenagers, the iPad Mini product will cater to that same demographic.
    • I'm not so sure about that.

      I think the main target of a 7.85" iOS device is the remaining tablet market Apple doesn't already own. I don't think that Apple is particularly enthusiastic about the form-factor, but they realize that an intermediate-sized device between iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad pretty much closes the noose on the Android ecosystem. The result is that Apple has many entry points into the iOS ecosystem and several additional devices once you do.
      The next and final step would be an iOS application environment incorporated into OS X (probably in 10.9) the same way that JAVA and X11 are now.
      • If the mini-tablet's primary use is as an e-reader....

        I don't think it would be a 7.85-inch screen. I think it's much more likely to be a 4:3 aspect ratio that is a lot more "booklike" than the 16:9 wide screen format, which is more intended for TV and movies. With a 4:3 display, a 6-inch Retina screen would look great, even for graphics.
    • A mini iPad would be too small

      to adequately display the rich graphics required for primary school books.
      • Interesting observation about those primary school textbook graphics

        I don't know. You might be right on that one or, at the very least, the smaller surface area would not provide the viewing experience of the larger, retina class display of it's larger cousin.

        But not giving the same viewing experience is NOT the same as giving an inadequate viewing experience.

        However, if schools are going to endorse e-text books, than that school system could "pony up" for an additional Apple TV and a large screen HDTV to display those graphics on for the students sitting in their desks. (Obviously, not all primary school systems will adopt e-text books and digital projection systems for their class rooms. But those that do might not be hampered by the smaller 7.8" display format of this rumored Apple product.)
        • the Graphics will look fine.

          Go to Barnes and Noble and ask to see a textbook on the Nook. The graphics look fine even in a Medical Textbook, where fine detail matters. In fact Barnes and Noble rents textbooks to college students who have Nooks. Which is one of the main reasons they still matter, they pretty much own every college bookstore in the country and have an insertion point that Apple will not be able to get. I'm sure a lot of college students would buy an iBook reader, but only those with a lot of money. Most would still opt for a Kindle or a Nook because they're cheaper and a Nook, at least, saves them ten times the cost in books.
          • Cheaper?

            @kennyrosenye: "Most would still opt for a Kindle or a Nook because they're cheaper"

            Since no one yet knows what the small iPad would sell for or indeed, if there will even be such a device, your assertion is silly.
  • Brilliant

    I could see such a device having widespread adoption in schools everywhere as a smaller more affordable tool for younger kids to learn, and carry anywhere without the security issues of the larger iPad. Apple is in the drivers seat with this market and can truly take hold of the education market if they wish. Amazon and other competitors have done nothing (although they've tried).

    It will also allow Apple to keep the iPad in its own category as the ultimate consumption/productivity device without cheapening its value too much. There would be the iPhone, iPod(s) which include the iPod Touch, the iPad and the new iBook. All separate categories but under the same ecosystem running the same type apps. The"iBook" would be seen as a NEW type of device targeting a specific market (education, eBook), not just another smaller tablet like everyone else is releasing.

    Either way Apple goes, the market is still there's to define. Every new 7" tablet that's release going back to the Galaxy Tab in 2010 was viewed as the device Apple should worry about. Now it's the Nexus 7 turn.
    • Textbooks are still large-page format (approaching 8x10)

      Ever try to read a magazine on the 6" Kindle. It is a real pain in the ...

      I do like the idea of upgrading the iPad Touch to a 7" device but that is too small for the classroom.
      M Wagner
      • Isn't Apple trying to revolutionize the Textbook Industry?

        Physical textbooks are still large-page format. Doesn't mean the digital one have to be the same format, same layout.
      • and do not forget

        that when you openthem, you see two pages at once.
        Lots of graphics in text books is designed to span two pages.
        • In digital format

          graphics don't have to be as large on the page, tap on the image and it zooms in to full screen. Tap again and it goes back to regular page view.
      • Too small?

        @M Wagner: "I do like the idea of upgrading the iPad Touch to a 7" device but that is too small for the classroom."

        You're probably right about that *if* the smaller iPad was a 7 inch device with a 16:9 aspect ratio like the devices produced by Apple's competitors. However, the rumors indicate that Apple's small iPad would be a 7.85 inch device with a 4:3 (or possibly 3:2 aspect ratio. Those apparently small changes make a HUGE difference is screen area. In fact, using the above figures, the rumored small iPad device would have a screen area almost 90 percent (!) larger than its most direct competitive devices.

        Surprising, isn't it?
        • Too small?

          Correction: Not 90 percent but over 42 percent greater screen area--still a huge difference given the apparently small change in diagonal dimension.
    • Any school district that pays iBook markups should

      have it's entire school board fired. Getting locked into iBooks would be the worst, most fiscally irresponsible thing they could do.
      Johnny Vegas
      • That's right

        They should be Metro books

        See? See? See how 'unbiased' I am?

      • So what's the price?

        Since this is a yet to even be announced product you must have a crystal ball. Please go ahead and tell us what components are going to be used, the specs and what the price will be. You obviously must know these things since you act like you know what the markup will be.
  • "iBook"? Apple has done that name already

    While the idea of Apple offering a 7" tablet is a good one, I doubt Apple will call it "iBook" anytime soon.

    The name "iBook" won't be new for a piece of hardware. In the late 1990s, the lineup for notebooks were the white iBooks (whose name was derived by the iMacs) and the black Powerbooks.

    Being associated with RIM's failing Playbook also won't do.
    Tech watcher
    • (quick editing)

      "derived by" should be "derived from"

      Please allow posters to edit their comments, which, like the iBook name, also was around once upon a time.
      Tech watcher
      • Alas, our collective pleas for comment editing have fallen on deaf ears.

        I can't believe comment editing would crash ZDnet's blogging software or "slow it down". If those were the reasons for excluding comment editing than ZDNet managers chose their new web site design and software - unwisely.