I'll believe the iPad Mini when Apple throws a launch event

Everywhere you turn on the web you run smack into another rumor about a small iPad that Apple is readying to compete with the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7. I can't come up with a single reason Apple needs one.


The web is always rife with rumors, and none get as much traction as those about Apple. The rumor of a small, 7-inchish iPad is one that just won't die. It keeps appearing in all the right places, supposedly gleaned from information from those unnamed sources "in a position to know". Sorry, while I would probably buy a small iPad I don't buy the rumors that Apple is actually going to produce one.

The rumors started almost as soon as the iPad originally hit the market. I can remember exclusive reports that the Asian supply chain was confirming an "iPad Mini". Those were over a year ago and still no little iPad.

What makes the iPad Mini such a compelling rumor goes back to Steve Jobs and his insistence that Apple wouldn't make one. He stated that a smaller (think 7-inch) iPad wouldn't give a good user experience, and that was that. Folks now seem anxious to see if the post-Jobs Apple will deviate from his views, and this is a way to see that happen.

Sorry folks, while a small iPad would probably sell OK, I don't see producing one to be in Apple's best interests. The company doesn't normally enter existing market segments with the intention of competing on design and pricing. Apple normally creates new markets, defines them to fit products and then owns them. That's how they maintain such a high profit margin on products.

Competing in a low margin, highly competitive market just doesn't fit the Apple way. In discussions I've held with very smart people familiar with the tech industry, I've been told that an iPad Mini would be a defensive strike by Apple in the tablet sector now ruled by Amazon with the Kindle Fire and soon Google with the Nexus 7.

The problem with that logic is that Apple doesn't do defensive strikes. If it wanted to go after the Nexus 7 it would have launched a small iPad back when the iPad 3 was announced, long before the Nexus 7 was a public twinkle in Google's eye.

I also find it hard to believe that Apple would enter an existing market with such a low profit margin. Both Google and Asus, the maker of the Nexus 7, have stated that the $199 Nexus 7 is a break-even device. While Apple could certainly produce an iPad with similar features at that price and actually make a profit due to its tight control of the supply chain, the margin would still be small.

A small margin is not what Apple goes after with a new product under any circumstances and I don't see them starting now because of tablets running Android. No, Apple will be content to keep churning out high-margin tablets and laughing all the way to the bank.

I have no inside information leading me to my belief that there will be no iPad Mini. So like those now claiming one is imminent, I have a 50/50 chance at being right about it. I'll take those odds.

Image credit: Brooke Crothers/CNET