Coming before Xmas.
Supply chain rumors are now firming up and you can expect the iPad Mini to be here in time for (not so mini) Christmas stockings. Sporting a 7.8″ 4:3 aspect ratio display and iPad1 definition – perfectly adequate – here are my predictions on what this new tool will be. Weight? 11 ounces, meaning almost half that of the iPad3.
Apple will likely want to limit the number of versions, and keep the price as low as possible to compete with Nexus 7 and new Fire(s) though you might reasonably argue that the simply terrible line of Amazon’s Kindles/Fires is not a competitor at any price, including free. And if you are holding out for Microsoft’s Surface (why?), you are making the assumption that the world’s worst run tech company (OK, second worst after HP), the one with a chimpanzee in the corner office (HP has a dog in the rôle), will suddenly do something right. Good luck with that.
I would think that anyone would pay $50 more for a Mini than for a competitor’s offering, to buy into the ecosystem and superior UI, not to mention better usable life, one conformed OS across all mobile devices unlike the half-dozen or so versions of Android, robust anti-virus design and excellent resale value. Anyone using a non-iPad tablet invites ridicule on a variety of grounds, ranging from poor judgment to plain nuttiness.
So $250 (16GB) and $300 (32GB) compares to $200/250 for the Nexus 7, with an alloy back, unlike the chintzy plastic one on the Nexus pretending to be carbon fiber. That price will allow AAPL to preserve its 35% margin on the new device. Wifi mandatory as we all move to the cloud. Same screen definition as iPad1 – no Retina Display (cost and production limitations). The current premium is $130 for cellular, but they can easily get that down to $80 with the new 28nM Qualcomm comms chip. The new comms chips from Qualcomm and Broadcom will see to it that battery life remains high as they use far less power than current designs. The 4:3 aspect ratio, shared with the big iPads, will mean that no changes need be made to apps for them to work out of the box …. err, iCloud.
So my guess is (wifi/cellular):
- 16GB – $249/$329
- 32GB – $299/$379
Two cellular versions as now – AT&T and VZ, but the new Qualcomm chip which will be shared with iPhone 5 (due September 12) is multi-band, so no increase in production costs – it’s a software switch only. The ARM CPU (a rare example of Britain doing something really well) will be at least as fast as the one in iPad2. Start-up costs on that have been recovered ages ago. And that multi-band QCOM chip should even accommodate all three Chinese carriers (I expect AAPL to add China Mobile – 50% of that market – in early 2013), all European carriers (if Europe continues to exist, that is) not to mention losers like Sprint.
Decent front and rear-facing cameras will likely be included and a microphone of course.
But what will really move the needle is that this device will be snapped up by impecunious schools worldwide, because an iPad can do a heck of a better job of teaching than the joke that passes for ‘teachers’ in US public schools who couldn’t get a real job.
Disclosure: Long AAPL, QCOM, BRCM.