After much anticipation the new iPad mini will be available in Apple retail stores on November 2.
Many analysts, however, are surprised at Apple’s pricing for the smaller version of its successful iPad tablet. Apple’s price tag for the mini is $329 (£269) and not the $299 that analysts say would have been blow to competitors.
If a buyer wants cellular connectivity then the iPad mini goes up to $429 for 16GB. Analysts say that the pricing may be to ensure that iPad 2 sales are cannibalised instead of the newer version
The iPad mini has a Facetime camera with HD, an A5 chip and 5 megapixel camera. The 7.9 inch iPad mini, however, does not have Retina display.
Apple has also put an end to the new iPad, which was only just released in April this year. The iPad 4 has been unveiled, offering a faster A6X processor, lightening conductor, faster Wi-Fi and Facetime camera with updated 720p HD. The iPad 4 is also claimed to have a 10 hour battery life.
The iPad 4, which also supports 4G, starts at £399 in the UK.
Industry leaders say that the iPad mini will likely disturb the 7-inch media tablet space, which Android has largely dominated until this point.
"Whilst mini in size, this device is set to throw one almighty punch in the direction of all competitors, who have for so long now had a torrid time competing against the 10-inch iPad," said Fred Huet, managing director at Greenwich Consulting. "The iPad mini is a clear warning shot to all competitors that the world’s most valuable company is not willing to share any of its 70% market share in the tablet industry, at least not without a strong fight."
iPad mini sales are expected to do well in Asia, where there is consumer demand for a product of this size.
According to analysts at RBC capital, iPad sales are expected to double from 15 million units sold in Q4 last year from the iPad mini announcement.
"There is little doubt that the 4G-equipped iPad Mini is going to be one of the major consumer electronics successes this Christmas, alongside the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, Google Nexus 7 and Samsung Galaxy Note," said Peter Doggart, senior director of global marketing at Crossbeam systems. "In fact, global tablet shipments in 2012 are set to reach 87.7 million units, according to IDC."
The popularity of mobile data enabled devices also means that mobile network operators will have to plan ahead, especially with the coming Christmas season. Operators will need to be able to cope with millions of new devices appearing on networks without compromising service.
"With most of these devices likely being sold with 3G and 4G service plans, that represents millions of new endpoints that will suddenly appear on mobile phone networks at once come December 25th, bringing with them massive demand for data services, and the potential risk of network congestion, security risks and scalability challenges," said Doggart. "This represents a substantial challenge for network operators looking to maintain quality of service for all features."
Kevin Baughan, director of wireless at Virgin Media Businesses says that mobile operators will face challenges of the mobile data backlog that the iPad Mini will add.
The new iPad Mini comes 4G equipped, offering download speeds up to 10 times faster than 3G networks – yet a further reminder that 4G is just around the corner," said Baughan. "Consumers are yet to experience the full potential of 3G however. Small cells can play a key role in unlocking its full potential and delivering internet connectivity that’ll help clear the mobile data backlog. "We’re consuming mobile data at a quicker rate than ever before and consumers expect fast, reliable connections.
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