Steve Jobs never hid his hatred for Google's Android platform. Shortly before his death, Jobs told his biographer Walter Isaacson of his wish to see the mobile platform annihilated.
"I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion in the bank [at the time, this bank balance has swelled massively since Jobs uttered these words], to right this wrong. I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."
Last week Apple scored a massive blow against Android in the form of a billion dollars in damages against handset and tablet maker Samsung. While there little doubt that this will now go to appeal, it's certainly going to make Android handset makers lose some sleep.
But a win for Apple in the courts only takes the company so far. The best way for the Cupertino juggernaut to "go thermonuclear" on Android is to obliterate its sales. The iPhone has the handset market well stitched up, and the iPad has all but wiped out high-end Android tablet sales. All that's left is the newly emerged budget tablet market created by the $199 Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 tablets. As compelling as the iPad is, it cannot compete with these chap 7-inch tablets.
Enter the iPad Mini.
According to AllThingsD's John Paczkowski, the iPad Mini has now been "confirmed" by "several sources" and will be announced at an event in October. While I have a problem with the use of the word "confirmed" -- the iPad Mini won't be confirmed until Apple announces it -- there's certainly a compelling case for Apple releasing a sub-8-inch iPad, and there's a reasonably solid framework of rumors that suggest the existence of the device in the supply chain pipeline.
I am, however, compelled to point out that nothing concrete is known about the iPad Mini, and everything written about it is being based on guesswork and speculation. Not a single hardware component allegedly belonging to the iPad Mini has been leaked, in stark contrast to the endlessleakingofpurportediPhone 5components.
What we can say with certainty about the iPad Mini is that it would ideally need to be priced at or below $299 in order to remain competitive in the face of the iPad 2 and 3. Given that back in March research firm iSuppli estimated that it cost Apple some $245 to make the revamped iPad 2, hitting that price point could be tricky, but it is doable, even taking into account Apple's bounteous profit margins.
According to Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, Apple needs a 7-inch tablet because without one it faces the prospect of losing market share and profit dollars.
"The Google Nexus 7 will sell well," writes Moorhead, "which is good for Google, Android, ASUS and NVIDIA, but bad for Apple, unless they act before the holidays".
Well, if AllThingsD is correct, Apple's going to be ready for the holidays with its own small tablet, and if it is priced right, it's likely to be a massive hit. Also, because its release is staggered a little more than six months following the release of the last iPad, it's unlikely to cannibalize sales of its bigger brother.
ZDNet's James Kendrick suggested that Apple could rock the world with an iPad Mini, which he dubbed the iBook. I have to say that if Apple does it right -- and if past history is anything to go by, it will -- then this could be bigger than both the iPad and the iPhone, and it could be just the thermonuclear device that the company needs to win the war against Android.