The iPad mini is no threat to budget Android tablets

by: Simon HillOctober 24, 2012

So it has finally arrived. The never ending speculation, the ceaselessly grinding rumor mill, the crushing anticipation has resulted in the iPad mini. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling distinctly underwhelmed. Of course, no visitor to Android Authority is going to be all that shocked to find a lack of excitement about Apple’s latest release, but seriously, look at those specs.

Ah, the last refuge of an Android scoundrel, I can hear all you Apple fans shouting already that no one cares about specs except “Fandroids”. Of course, you’ll argue that people only care about how great the device looks and how it feels to use and I’ll point out that those things are, at the very least, heavily influenced by the quality of the hardware.

My colleague Mike has already done a good job of discussing the iPad mini vs the Nexus 7 in terms of hardware so I won’t go back over it. For me, he didn’t mention the most important difference until the final section. The real reason that the iPad mini won’t be supplanting every small form Android tablet in sight and the reason that it’s no real threat to budget Android tablets – is the price.

Apple does not do “budget”

Whether you love or hate Apple this is one indisputable truth about the company. The Apple approach and design philosophy is all about premium products. Those profit margins are jealously guarded and it’s a strategy that has made Apple the richest company in tech. As a budget proposition the iPad mini is not capable of competing with the Kindle Fire or the Nexus 7.

The iPad mini starts at $329 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version.

The basic Kindle Fire is $159, even the 16GB Kindle Fire HD is only $199.

The Nexus 7 starts at $199.

If you look at the other versions of the iPad mini the prices get even more ridiculous. Add $100 for 32GB or $200 for 64GB and another $130 on top if you want cellular with your Wi-Fi. A 64GB iPad mini with LTE support would cost you $659.

I’m not saying there is no market for the iPad mini. Apple fans are devout and some people who felt the latest iPad was a stretch for their finances might find the bottom line iPad mini hits a sweet spot for them. What I am saying is that the iPad mini cannot be described as a “budget tablet”.

People with limited means are not going to see the extra $130 of value in an iPad mini compared to a Nexus 7. People feeling the pressure of the financial meltdown, who want to join in the tablet frenzy and just want a device for content consumption, are not going to pay an extra $170 to get an iPad mini over a Kindle Fire.

You can buy two Kindle Fire tablets and still have change for the same price as an iPad mini.

U-turn for Apple

I think we all knew I was never going to get through this article without quoting Steve Jobs:

“the current crop of seven-inch tablets are going to be DOA–dead on arrival. Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small and increase the size next year, thereby abandoning both customers and developers who jumped on the seven-inch bandwagon with an orphaned product. Sounds like lots of fun ahead.”

That was almost exactly two years ago.

What has changed since then? Well, some Android manufacturers made some tablets that sold pretty well. Amazon shifted an estimated 5 to 6 million Kindle Fire tablets and its new range signals a clear belief in the market. Google is thought to have sold around 1 million Nexus 7 tablets so far. I can hear the Apple fans again. The company announced, in its usual self-congratulatory opening, that it has shifted 100 million iPads. These 7-inch Android tablets are small potatoes by comparison, but, of course, that won’t stop Apple from trying to compete with them.

Defensive not offensive

You have to wonder if this signals an important turning point for Apple. The company which is at pains to paint itself as an innovator, a creator of new markets and devices, is now jumping on the smaller tablet form factor bandwagon with a product which offers nothing new or cutting edge. The tech is 2011. The release is a reaction to other movers in the market. The price is not competitive.

The iPad mini looks like a defensive move rather than an offensive one. The fact that Apple is not willing to concede that it cannot compete at the budget end of the market is tiresome. Apple’s Phil Schiller conducted a big comparison with the Nexus 7 and argued that:

“The iPad is far and away the most successful product in its category. The most affordable product we’ve made so far was $399 and people were choosing that over those devices, and now you can get a device that’s even more affordable at $329 in this great new form, and I think a lot of customers are going to be very excited about that,” he even went on to say, “Others have tried to make tablets smaller than the iPad and they’ve failed miserably. These are not great experiences.”

I have to dispute the assertion that other manufacturers have “failed miserably”. I’m pretty sure Amazon and Google would dispute it too. I’ll concede that a lot of customers will be excited about the iPad mini, but are they customers who would have bought a Nexus 7 or a Kindle Fire if the iPad mini hadn’t come out?

I also have to point out that if you’re going to charge over 100 bucks more than your competitors, then your device damn well should be offering a better experience, otherwise just what is it you are expecting people to pay for? It’s a question that often raises its head when it comes to Apple devices. Fans can talk about magic, but who can see it in the lackluster iPad mini?

  • Daniel

    “Others have tried to make tablets smaller than the iPad and they’ve failed miserably. These are not great experiences.”

    This line pissed me off and it’s one of the main reasons i will not buy anymore Apple products. They are putting lies into peoples heads. Every keynote i hear a lie. But you know what, people will believe them because they don’t know any better.

    • MasterMuffin

      Apple users often buy apples because they’re healthy and cheap :D but seriously, apple users often buy apple because they don’t know anything about this stuff and they’ve heard or seen apple products and they look at the price and think “whoa that must be the best there is” and they buy it.

      • Daniel

        Haha yeap. That’s the sad part. They will never know what they are missing out on. Oh well, new Nexus 7 for me soon :D

        • MasterMuffin

          Great :D

      • Fewl

        You’re just correct, I’m not anyone fun though but i can see that most of ppl who have know idea about gadgets are prefer apple product because they thought they are the best product out there!

        • MasterMuffin

          Double reply? :)

      • Fewl

        You’re just correct, I’m not anyone fun though but i can see that most of ppl who have no idea about gadgets are prefer apple product because they thought they are the best product out there!

      • Joey

        Actually, they look at the Apple logo and think “whoa that must be the best there is” ;)

    • KC

      Totally agree. These iPhonies are delusional ignorant people anyway.

    • mini tablets have failed because the most popular mini tablet, “nexus 7” has only sold 3 million units. Ipad mini pre orders are already exceeded that number on pre orders……

  • I will buy iPad mini because I need an iOS device and also a small tablet besides my Galaxy S3. So the mini is a perfect choice for me, even if I hate Apple’s policy…

    • Stian French

      “I nees an iOS device…” isn’t that an oxymoron?

    • my i ask why you need an iOs device?

      • Yes. There are more than 20 apps which I’ve bought for iOS and hasn’t been ported to Android… so I need an iOS device to run them. If every app I’d like to use would be available for Android, I’d never think of buying an Apple product…

        • Ryan Joseph Ramos

          why’d you buy iOS apps when you don’t have an iOS device?

        • Abhisshack D

          @facebook-100003548748181:disqus i would Love to know that 20 Apps you brought in ios. can give me link about them

        • They won’t be ported over to android. I have a friend who is a program developer, one thing ios has over android is superior apps, as these developers are more focused on IOS over android. If your not developing apps for ios, your small time developer. Those apps your talking about, will never see the day in an android phone. This is why I am going chosing and apple product over an android because of superior applications.

  • mjolnir

    I really hope the nexus 7 8GB will drop to $150 in line with the kindle fire, I would buy 2 instantly

  • BFS

    ipad mini is not a budget tab, and its too big for a “mini” tab!
    The real budget is to get a 32GB Nexus7 for $249!!!

  • W

    Problem is it will be a threat. Look at current sales of the ipad, they outsell every tablet on the market by a considerable margin with a $500 price tag. People that haven’t purchased an ipad but have wanted one will now have a reason to get one since the mini is now the size they have wanted. Yes the nexus 7 and kindle fire are cheaper but that won’t stop someone from purchasing this. History shows apple sheep don’t care about price.

    • RED

      Because the actual iPad is a great tablet in it’s category. Most tablets in it’s category is around the same price. So you don’t get much competition right off the bat and of course most will go with the ecosystem of an iPad at that price.

      When you go lower in price and size you are no longer in the apple sheep’s range but in the best affordable bang for your buck crowd. The iPad mini offers nothing a galaxy nexus can’t. Most apple sheep tech guys even mention that it isn’t that much of a deal for it. In fact, pushing out more money for the NEW NEW NEW iPad is a much better investment than the iPad Mini.

      With no Retina Display or A6 Chip in it this thing is a iPod touch extra large at best. It offers nothing that the newest iPad can do.

      • AppleFansInDenile

        I think Apple came up with this ipad mini just to “back up their claim” that smaller tablets are Useless……according to Steve Jobs.

  • Damn right. The device the iPad Mini is a huge threat to….is the iPad Maxi. It is marketing against itself. At the launch the world was told it was real iPad. A great iPad. Apple mouth pieces every where are singing its praises. How great the screen is. How it is thinner and lighter than the iPad 3. How portable it is. How it runs all the made for tablet apps. And when people start comparing prices…$70 cheaper than an iPad 2 and $ 170 less than the current , and upcoming, iPad….all hell is going to break loose. A bargain basement Apple device. Hell it may even knock off some iPod sales.

  • Hassaan Qazi

    even bein an apple fan, the mini is a disaster….apple doin wat samsung does; copy…Apple Inc. vs Amazon anytime soon???

    • RIP Jobs… and his company…

      Ahem… “Apple doin wat Samsung does; copy” I bet you never kissed your mother with your backside so why are you talking out of it?? Apple was born copying pal. Without plagiarism Apple simply wouldn’t exist. Google “Apple ripped off Xerox” if you’re not sure what I mean. Apple’s only antsy these days because their own practice has come back and latched onto their arse and they don’t like it good Sir, not one bit. Sucks to be them.

  • Andrew

    All the people here are obsessed with android and are supporting it LIKE their fathers have created it…. i am not trying to support apple but just look …apple makes premium products and u have to give a price to owe one……ipad is made of aluminium and glass, it is way lighter than other android tabs in the market…apple gives a premium touch to there things……here people will pay less for galaxy s3 whose screen would leak out on one drop or will buy plastic android tabs and will consider themselves as more genius because they have spend less on some crap…….

    • Which is better?
      Living in a world of plastic, with freedom of choice,

      or in a cage made of aluminium and glass?
      Hmmmmmm… Lemme think…

      • andrew

        what do u mean by freedom….with freedom comes many things which u dont want,,,like in your case slow processing and virus etc

        • AppleFansInDenile

          Or freedoms I do want, such as less boring screens unlike ipads (Yawn) and IO ports.
          Besides Android’s plastic shell is quite durable, and most uses Gorilla Glass 1 or 2.

      • Andrew

        with freedom there comes many things you dont want… in your case freedom will also bring slow procesing and viruses :/

        • Andrew Mezzi

          You aren’t going to get a virus useless you do something stupid with your device (such as install apps you found online without checking the source you got them from). Most people just stick to apps in the Play Store. If apps in it have a virus, they will usually be reported and removed. If you use good judgment, you won’t be attacked. It’s just like desktops. About the process in power, the processor depends on the tablet. The iPad Mini uses an A5 (not an A5X), and the Nexus 7 uses a Tegra 3. Based on benchmarks, the Tegra 3 is slightly faster.

    • EKfine

      premium product which you have to protect with a rubber or a plastic. lol nice. have you forgotten about how tough the ip4 and 4s with its premium materials? so tough that if you drop it you’ll break not one but two glass! what a great design! apple is so premium, yeah right!

    • EKfine

      so premium they put budget components in their ipad mini. i say easy on the apple juice.

  • Top Gear

    So all of those real tablet apps, a bigger screen, a higher quality design, and a lighter weight is not a better experience or doesn’t crush the Fire or Nexus (lmao) specs?

    Heh, ok. Live in your fantasy world where 6-7 million combined can be considered a success next to 15 million or so sold per quarter.