During yesterday's invite-only Apple event there were a number of announcements regarding Apple products. They announced a new 13" Macbook Pro, a stunning new iMac, the new iPad mini and a refresh to the recently released third-generation iPad 10". Let's take a look at the latter announcements, starting with the fourth-generation iPad.
The iPad refresh comes with minor updates such as the integration of the Lightning connector, FaceTime HD and a bump up to the Apple A6X processor, which Phil Schiller touted would double both the CPU and graphics.
"The competition wasn't even close to us, and now we're just blowing past them some more." - Schiller
The announcement of the fourth-generation iPad 10" came as a bit of a surprise to just about everyone. The "new iPad" (third-gen) was announced a mere 6 months ago and left many who rushed out to purchase the latest and greatest Apple product wondering what to do with their (now) already out-dated device.
If you find yourself in this situation, I suggest calling up your local Apple store and asking how they intend to handle the refresh. According to a CNET article published yesterday,
"Customers who purchased a third-generation iPad within the last 30 days might be able to exchange their device for a newer model at select Apple stores."
On the other hand, the iPad mini reveal was nothing surprising; seeming almost exactly what most rumors and speculations predicted. The device has a 7.9 inch display and weighs a mere 10.88 ounces. The device is powered by the Apple A5X processor, runs the newly released iOS 6 and comes with a 10 hour battery life. Schiller described the device as being as thin as a pencil and as about as light as a pad of paper.
There's even good news for the developers of Apple's 275,000 iPad specific apps. The mini comes with a 1024 x 768 resolution; matching it's 10" companion. This means developers won't have to touch their iPad apps in order for them to run on the smaller device. This is a huge differentiator for Apple when you compare the mini to an Android powered seven-inch.
While Apple is scaling down applications for the smaller screen, while keeping the same resolution, Android tends to take apps built for mobile and scales them up. If you've ever tried to increase the size of an image that wasn't high enough resolution and come out with a pixelated mess, you can imagine what affect that might have on moving graphics.
During his keynote, Schiller directly compares the iPad mini to Google's recently released Nexus 7; something we're not used to seeing during an Apple event. Apple so often has had the ability to put themselves in the driver seat with regards to innovation, but in this case, is making somewhat of a late entrance into the smaller tablet form factor. Today we got a chance to see Schiller go on the offensive by opening up the comparison by saying,
"Others have tried to make tablets smaller than the iPad and they've failed misserably; these are just not good experiences."
Moving passed the differences in the two app ecosystems, Schiller talks about the difference in screen sizes saying that the iPad mini has a 49% larger viewing surface while surfing the web when being held in portrait and is 67% larger in landscape. What he neglects to point out is that the mini actually has a lower screen resolution and pixel density than both the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD, however I doubt this is going to be a deterring factor for consumers.
The only place I feel Apple may have missed the mark on the new iPad mini is the price point. While Schiller took plenty of time to compare the device to similar Android devices, can we really consider it an apples to apples (no pun intended) competitor when the mini costs $80 more than the Nexus 7 and $130 more than the Kindle Fire HD!? On the other hand, it was always going to be difficult for Apple to compete in the $200 price range without 1. having to downgrade the device specs or 2. risking cannibalization of the newly upgraded iPod Touch.
Only time will tell if Apple's hit or missed the mark on the new iPad mini with consumers. I don't dare speculate what kind of sales volume the device will actually do, but it will definitely be interesting to see how Apple's competitors respond during their own events happening throughout October.
For those of you interested in seeing how the three devices stack up next to each other in the spec department, I've provided a comparison of the iPad mini, Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD below.
Dan Wittmers is the Founder & CEO of the Mobile Leaders Alliance. He has a natural understanding of the entire mobile ecosystem, and during his tenure, has had the opportunity to work with Fortune 500 brands and agencies across North America. Educated in media, messaging, development, SaaS tools and predictive analytics, he is an emerging thought leader in the mobile industry.