Jun 6 2012
Apple has found itself in the uncomfortable position lately of being top dog on a pile of wiggling puppies. The company has dominated the smart phone market since 2007’s iPhone debut, and virtually invented the tablet market with the introduction of the iPad in 2010. Many consumers equate the term smart phone with Apple, and tablet with iPad. But all of that’s beginning to change thanks to the innovation of designers creating new handsets and tablet designs for Google’s Android OS.
The first example was in the fourth quarter of 2011, when Amazon’s Kindle Fire began to outsell the iPad despite being much smaller, a bit heavier, and thicker than Apple’s tablet. The huge difference in price seems to have played a significant role in the Fire’s success, putting pressure on Apple to revisit a possibility all but extinguished by Steve Jobs himself prior to his death: the introduction of a smaller, less expensive iPad to its tablet line. Jobs said “never.” But now, Apple’s saying “September,” and education markets are already buzzing about this news. Education has proven to be a good channel for Apple’s small, durable connected electronics like the iPod Touch. Some schools have incorporated iPad in lower grades as well, but the expense is cost prohibitive. A smaller iPad that doesn’t cost as much would naturally appeal to this market.
As for regular consumers, a smaller iPad would also fill a gap opened by the introduction of several fairly decent Android tablets, also priced to sell. These users who want the Apple experience, and iOS instead of Android, are likely to cough up the bucks for a cheaper version of the iPad – especially those who have been hesitant to jump on the Android bandwagon just because of the lower prices.
There has been some evidence that Apple’s iPad sales have suffered to a small degree due to the emergence of new Android devices on the market. Maybe it’s the optimal time for Apple to revisit the idea of the smaller iPad, despite Steve Jobs’ assurances that there would never be one. Times change, peoples’ demands change, and the electronics they are currently buying do indicate that smaller tablets are a hot commodity. iPad is also a hot commodity, but requires a bigger investment out of pocket, so it stands to reason that one priced more closely to those currently available for the Android crowd would sell like, well, iPad! Except to a bigger group of people. And maybe even faster.
So, September is shaping up to be a promising month for Apple if the rumors hold true. Leave us your comments. We’d love to hear from you.
Melonie McLaurin is a technology writer who works for Direct2TV.net. She also writes a personal technology blog, The Apple and Paw.