If AllThingsD‘s sources are to be believed, Apple will host an event on October 23 to unveil the long-rumored smaller iPad. That means we’ll see media invitations go out no later than this coming Tuesday.
If we look at historical Apple announcements, they typically announce products on Wednesdays, making them available Friday of the following week. October 23 is a Tuesday. If the iPad Mini follows the trend, we’ll see it the following Friday, November 2, just three weeks from today.
The most debated and widely discussed detail about a smaller iPad isn’t that it exists and we’ll see it in time for the holidays. That seems to be widely accepted by everyone. Now, the question is price. Apple just unveiled the new iPod Touch, which starts at $299 for the 16gb model and $399 for the 32gb model. Adding that to the rest of their lineup, we’d see the following:
- $199 – iPod Touch (4th-generation)
- $299 – iPod Touch (5th generation, 16gb)
- $399 – iPod Touch (5th generation, 32gb)
- $399 – iPad 2 (16gb, Wifi-only)
- $499 – iPad 3 (16gb, Wifi-only)
So where does a potential iPad Mini fit in? If you believe the majority of the tech press, we’ll see it between $249 and $299. It has to compete with the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7, both at $199. Surely, Apple can command a bit of a premium, as with all their products, but anything over $299 would likely be viewed by consumers as a completely different price point than the two main competing Android tablets. $199 would surely undermine Apple’s profit margins, so don’t look for it to be priced that low.
How does Apple release a 7.85″ iPad at a price point equal to, or even potentially $50 less than the new iPod Touch? From a cost and logistics perspective, that’s easy. Two thoughts: First: iPad Mini will be last year’s hardware. Non-retina display and the A5 chip instead of A6. Second: the smaller size of the components reduces the cost of parts. A 7.85″ non-retina display is cheaper to produce. A smaller battery, say, 4,000 – 6,000 mAh, won’t need as much power to run the A5 or the smaller display. Plus, its physical size will obviously have to be smaller to fit in the thinner and overall smaller frame.
All of Apple’s products with Retina displays have seen shipping delays into the two to three month range at some point. Shipping the iPad Mini in November, without a Retina display, and making it in time for the holidays, means Apple can likely have millions of them on-hand and ready to sell, without impacting the output of factories producing Retina displays for other devices.
The only other thing, besides price, that seems unknown, is whether or not a 3G/4G option will be available. With as hard as Apple has been pushing iCloud, and as deep as they’ve integrated it with iOS 6, Mountain Lion and Apple TV, it seems likely they’d want to add a cellular radio for users to access all that cloud content. But then again, cellular radios drive the price up. On the iPad as we know it now, it adds an extra $129 bucks.
As always, all of this is pure speculation until Tim Cook takes the stage. We’re talking about an unannounced device, with unannounced specs and features, to be unveiled at an unannounced date at a [so far] unannounced event. But you know what they say: where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and it’s getting awfully smokey in here. Jim Dalrymple just gave it the infamous “Yep.“, and Gruber agrees.
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