The Apple press event this week was, as expected, loaded with new products whipping attendees into a frenzy. It wasn't as big a frenzy as usual but the excitement was evident. It was a typical stage for new devices to hit the ground.
Front and center at the event was the iPad Air 2, a thinner, more powerful version of the original iPad Air. While it was evident Apple believes the iPad Air 2 is a big play for the company, the new iPad mini 3 didn't have much of a launch.
The new little iPad only got a few minutes of discussion at the event, and wasn't demonstrated at all. This was probably due to how little has changed from the iPad mini 2. Apple added Touch ID — the secure fingerprint reader —and a gold option. Everything else in the iPad mini 3 is exactly the same as the iPad mini 2.
That new Touch ID sensor results in the iPad mini 3 starting at a cost of $399, which is $100 higher than the iPad mini 2. Adding the same Touch ID sensor that's on the iPhone is a good feature, but not at that price.
The lack of attention Apple is giving to the iPad mini seems like it's stepping away from the small tablet form and going all in with the iPad Air 2 and iPhone 6 Plus. Perhaps management thinks that the big iPhone screen is infringing on iPad mini territory.
If so, it may be onto something. The iPhone 6 Plus is incredibly useful due to the large display, and the iPad mini 3 wouldn't add much value over the phone. And certainly not $100 worth over the last iPad mini.
Moving away from the iPad mini makes sense when you think of Apple's push to get in the enterprise. Its recent deal with IBM to get iPads into the corporate world is suited to the iPad Air 2 and iPhone 6 Plus far more than the iPad mini 2 or 3. Smartphones are a natural fit in the enterprise, and if tablets are deployed to employees they would much more likely be larger than the little iPads.
Of course, Apple is unpredictable and may do something unexpected with the iPad mini. Given so little attention to the refresh of the iPad mini 3, the lack of stage time at the iPad press event, and the high price for such a little change, it seems the iPad mini has become a secondary product to the folks in Cupertino.