This is a day that I'm sure every Apple executive will remember more than we will in the future. The reason is because, for the first time in over half a decade, a great product that could be was just made good. Apple has made the horrendous mistake of letting the engineers take over.
Engineers hated Steve Jobs. If you read his biography, you'll notice just how often he would clash with Jon Rubinstein (who later departed to become Palm's CEO after he had enough). The reason why is because Steve and Jony would always push Jon to do impossible engineering with products. By impossible I mean doing things that had never been done before. As a result, Jon decided to head Palm the way an engineer would, and I'm sure you know how that story ended.
The Apple we knew from Steve Jobs, was a company that defied what engineers considered possible. Back when computers were a wired mess, Apple pushed the iMac. When portable music players actually required a large carrying case, Apple defied them and won with the iPod. When smartphones weren't really so easy to use, the iPhone changed everything. When tablet computers were simply a niche product on the counter, the iPad changed the game.
The question is what does the iPad mini defy? When Steve Jobs announced the original iPad, he made a great point of how a third category of products has to be far better at achieving certain tasks that are cumbersome on a computer and a smartphone, and when it comes to reading books, playing games or browsing the web, he actually had a point.
You could say that the iPad mini kept the iPad name because it wasn't designed to defy anything and just offer a smaller and more portable iPad experience. Sadly that’s where the point is lost. See, the original iPod mini, now known as the iPod nano, wasn't just a smaller iPod. It was meant to solve the needs of the fitness market in a way the original iPod was just too large to fit in. It wasn’t a new category of music player, but it did a great job at solving the needs of a specific niche.
So the question left is why would you need a smaller iPad? Well can you really consider it a smaller iPad if the fourth-generation iPad is far superior and not just bigger? The biggest reason why I love my Nexus 7 is because it's a more portable tablet that I can use to read books without the compromise of a dedicated eReader. It's also the perfect gaming companion since it's not too small and not too large for some fun accelerometer action. The iPad mini would've been the perfect iPad to solve these two particular needs, as the larger iPad focused on serving magazines, newspapers and movies. Sadly, just like Samsung shot the Galaxy brand with a Galaxy S III mini that’s in no way a smaller Galaxy S III, Apple just destroyed the iPad brand with a smaller tablet that isn’t as great as the New iPad.
So, if Steve Jobs were alive today and sitting in the front row as a retired CEO, what do you think he'd say about the iPad mini? Here are our thoughts on how he would handle it.
Tim, you let the engineers take over!
The iPad mini misses the point. It’s a beautifully designed tablet that only feels better in the hand, but that doesn’t improve your experience when looking at the screen, and if you think of it, the whole point of a tablet is its screen. This looks like the perfect job of the software engineering crew that also messed up with iOS 6. Instead of complicating things for software engineers and developers, they wen't for a more conformist approach of adding a low-resolution display on the iPad mini. As if software engineers and developers were the guys that decide if they’re going to buy the tablet or not.
This is a big mistake, and a mentality that Steve would've avoided. The biggest reason for being of the iPad mini is to provide a smaller tablet that allows an enhanced experience when reading books for example, but imagine coming from reading a book on a 3rd-Generation iPad with a Retina Display or from an iPhone 5 with a Retina Display to an iPad mini? You'll have a far better experience reading text on a 200+ or 300+ Pixels-Per-Inch display than to go back to reading at last-decade's 162 PPI.
As a result, this is seriously just a smaller me-too tablet, and not really a smaller iPad by today’s standards. It also isn’t the perfect 7-inch tablet everybody was expecting Apple to bring. If given a choice between the Kindle Fire 7 HD, a Nexus 7 or an iPad Mini, the debate dies at the spec sheet since the two competing tablets are already better.
Phil, the price is all-wrong!
When the original iPad was launched, everybody expected it to retail for $1,000. Tablet PCs back then all cost a lot more, so it made sense for Apple to price their technology close to them. Everybody was surprised with a $499 price tag. It was clear that Apple understood that an iPad just didn't compare to a Tablet PC and therefore, giving it a steep price would've killed the product once you measured each competing platform on usability.
$329 for an iPad mini is too much money. If this were 2011 and we were still using the original Kindle Fire or panned BlackBerry Playbook, then the price would've made sense. The iPad mini would’ve shared similar specs and was at the middle ground of both products when it came to price. Sadly the Nexus 7 makes the iPad look inferior. Surely I hate the screen on the Nexus 7, but when given the choice between a high-resolution, powerful and cheap Nexus tablet and a low-resolution iPad Mini for almost twice the price tag, the debate is over.
The bottom line
I'm sure the iPad mini will sell. There are already 100 million iPad customers that are locked into an ecosystem and this would be a great upgrade for those that are still using the first-generation iPad at a much smaller price tag. Those that are coming from the iPad 2 won't complain either since they'll actually get the same tablet at a smaller form factor and also cheaper. If you think of it, the move wasn't so crazy since those who own a 3rd-Generation iPad have barely owned it for 9 months and are not likely to be iPad mini customers any time soon. So yeah, it’ll still sell millions just out of the legacy iPad customers that don’t want to buy Angry Birds twice if they migrated to Android.
Apple's problem is competition at times when iOS 6 has failed to shine. New customers now have a broader choice of tablets that are actually better. For the first time in over half a decade of iOS products, Apple has launched a me-too device. Something that's just there to offer another option, but not really capable of making the rest of the market worry. I honestly feel that Steve wouldn't have been proud of such a device, and I know many of you will agree with me here. There's really no point in a beautiful product that doesn't serve its purpose better than any other product in the market. That's just a fact Apple will have to deal with.
What do you think about the iPad mini? Would you think that it meets-up to Steve Jobs legacy? Leave us a comment down bellow.