Apple has announced an October 23 media event where it is expected to debut a long anticipated smaller version of their iconic iPad. Although tech watchers have been speculating on if and when this might occur almost since the original iPad was released this time it looks to be really happening.
According to some accounts, Steve Jobs prior to his death wasn’t overly receptive to the notion of ‘downsizing’ the iPad. The notoriously iconoclastic Jobs felt that there was no need for a device to fill the space between the iPad and the iPod Touch and iPhone. He held on to this view despite a significant amount of feedback from the tech media and consumers that the original iPad was a bit too large and bulky. Apple has tried to make the device slimmer and lighter but until now had not reduced the overall size of the iPad.
Now market conditions may have forced their hand. Apple’s iPad is still the most dominant player in the tablet product category it pioneered and defined, but there are now competitors cutting in to their market share with smaller and less expensive devices. Amazon and Barnes & Noble have found some success with their ‘e-readers’ and as these products have matured have morphed in to more powerful and full featured devices running the Android OS. The smaller form factor of these devices suggested that there was some consumer demand that the larger tablets weren’t meeting but it wasn’t until Google released their wildly successful Nexus 7 tablet that Apple sat up and took notice.
The Nexus 7 was a winner on all fronts, experiencing brisk sales and receiving critical raves from the tech media. The Nexus 7 brought a 7″ tablet with great tech specs to the market for a base price of $199–the same price as the Amazon Kindle Fire HD tablet. Apple’s new device will definitely be a response to the success of these smaller devices but other than that very little is known.
The move is not without risk for Apple. For one thing, they’ve got to get the pricing right. In theory, it would seem that they’d want to offer an option in the similar price range to the Nexus 7 but that would mean that profit margins per device would be nonexistent. Furthermore, delivering a product that can’t compete with the specs and usability of the Nexus 7 could be a blow to the Apple corporate image. On the other hand, if they price it too high they could have problems moving the product. Stay tuned as the next few weeks should be very interesting.