The Curious Case Of The iPad Mini

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days, you’d probably know that Apple plans to release a new 7″ (or 7.8″) iPad sometime this month. Well, actually, Apple hasn’t confirmed anything except sent out an invite to the tech press which seems to all but confirm the existence of the said device. There has been speculation about the device’s size, price and the ability to conjure up the Patronus Charm and blow the competition away.

There has also been talk among the wildlings, aka Android and other operating systems we don’t take the name of users, that the iPad mini is just a reaction to Amazon’s wildly successful (?) Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7. Some of these user’s just can’t think of any good reasons so just keep blurting out, WELL STEVE JOBS SAID APPLE WOULDN’T MAKE A 7″ TABLET.

Well, guess what, Steve doesn’t run the company anymore. God bless his soul.

All speculations aside, I think the biggest reason Apple is going to release an iPad mini is because Steve said they won’t.

Confused? Don’t be.

If you’ve been following Apple’s growth path for the last few years, specifically how Apple has handled the iPod lineup over the years, the answer would be clear. Apple doesn’t go after market share. Period. Not in the initial years at least.

Apple released the iconic iPod and no one thought it’d be such a big hit. This was a¬†comparatively¬†expensive product that people really didn’t think they’d need. Well, guess what. Everyone bought it regardless. It was a massive success and sure enough, Apple released an updated version and by the time the original iPod was in it’s third year, Apple released the iPod mini and then the nano and then the shuffle and so on.

The point I’m trying to make is that this is how Apple has always worked. Release a ground breaking product, reap profits for a few years. Make another model, catering to a different segment and reap more profits. Unlike competition, Apple leaves a lot of holes in the market initially and then fills them up one by one depending on the market’s reaction.

Now, take the case of the iPhone. Apple released the iPhone with 2G first, then 3G and then gave it a speed boost with the 3GS and moved on to the iPhone 4. Now, with the 3GS and iPhone 4, Apple finally had two models that could run their current version of iOS without getting bogged down. iPhone 4 became the flagship model and the 3GS was sold at a reduced price.

Now, Samsung’s strategy in selling their Galaxy tabs is on somewhat similar lines. They probably have a Galaxy Tab model all the way from 4″ to 10″ and will probably have launched a few more in between by the time you read this. And the strategy seems to be working for them so far. But it really hasn’t dented the iPad’s sales.

I don’t think Apple’s decision to release the iPad mini has anything to do with the perceived success of the Kindle Fire or the Nexus 7. Apple probably is in a much better position than any of us to find out just how many of these other tablets have really been sold.

I think the iPad mini always figured in the broad plan and the reason it’s being released right now is because it’s elder sibling has pretty much cornered it’s market and this just happens to be a good time to get the fence sitters into the ecosystem, just like the iPod mini and the shuffle did.