iPad Mini: Expert Predictions and Challenges

An Apple iPad Mini isn't official yet, but one Apple expert says it will happen soon and will be very competitive in the 7-inch space ... as long as the price is right.

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Thu, October 11, 2012

CIO — Rumors are rampant about an Apple iPad Mini—an iPad with a 7-inch touchscreen—hitting the market perhaps as early as next month. For the past week, industry watchers have been speculating what an iPad Mini will look like. Will it have a camera? Will it support 4G LTE? How much will it cost?

CIOs are wondering how an iPad Mini might be used in the enterprise.

The short answer is that small-screen tablets have already made inroads on factory floors, says Kyle Wiens of iFixit, a website providing free repair manuals and advice forums. Wiens is a reliable prognosticator of everything Apple, as well as an iOS app developer.

The iPad Mini's chances in the enterprise just might hinge on cost, he says. It'll be competing with other small screen tablets, such as the Amazon Kindle Fire (starting at $159) and Google Nexus 7 (starting at $199). Odds are good that Apple will strip many iPad features to get to a lower price point.

Among consumers, a lower price tag might open doors to customers who had been turned off by the high cost of the iPad (starting at $499). For instance, Piper Jaffray surveyed 7,700 teenagers and found that 43 percent were more likely to buy an iPad if Apple released a smaller version priced at $299.

While speculation about an iPad Mini abounds, one thing is for certain: Although the late Steve Jobs dismissed such a product as a "tweener," a cheaper tablet with a smaller screen has shown to have market upside among both consumers and companies.

CIO.com sat down with Wiens to get his take on the iPad Mini.

Will there be an iPad Mini?

Wiens: I think it's going to happen. There are less leaks about the iPad Mini than the iPhone 5. But the reason there were so many leaks about the iPhone 5 was because Apple was making a lot more of them. Apple also was diversifying, using more manufacturers, and pushing capacity to the max. With the iPad Mini, it's different.

Are you expecting surprise features in the iPad Mini?

Wiens: I have expectations for no interesting features.

The real question is, how much is it going to cost?

There have been some rumors that the iPad Mini will be WiFi-only to cut down on costs. My gut feeling is that there will be a cellular-capable version, although the most popular one will be the WiFi-only version, which will be the Nexus 7 competitor. (Nexus 7 is WiFi-only.)

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