Price Considerations and Future Developments for the iPad mini

30 Oct

Months ago, one of the most popular speculations surrounding the iPad mini is that the price would fall within a reasonable range, possibly at around the $249 to $269 USD mark. Seeing how legitimate competitors like Google and Amazon are doing within the market, along with how the affordability factor appears to be growing in significance by the day, the importance of striking the hearts of price-sensitive consumers seemed all the more apparent. Yet, rather than to simply emulate its rivals’ strategy, the Cupertino company (not surprisingly) elected to charge the mini tablet at a price above all others. At $329 for the cheapest model, a question that undoubtedly comes to mind at this point is, should casual consumers -particularly those already owning an iPad- actually rush to purchase the iPad mini? Is it more practical to wait for for a superior version of the tablet, perhaps one that is really worth the money?

Will casual consumers find the iPad mini’s price tag reasonable?
(picture taken by James Martin of CNET)

The Pricing Factor

Justifying the higher than expected price tag, Apple claims that the iPad mini is not merely a “smaller” version of the iPad, but a “concentration” of all that makes the device an “amazing” product. For the most part, this is true: the iPad mini encompasses nearly all the important features of a typical iPad (minus the retina display, of course), and throws in some nifty upgrades and surprises like an actually decent camera. The product is also thinner, lighter, runs all the iOS softwares and programs, and has the same 10 hour battery life as all the other Apple tablets. Losing to the iPad 2 sibling only in size, there’s no question that a good number of people will actually be willing, if not happy, to empty their wallets and pay the premium price for Apple’s miniature device.

Yet, when factors such as component costs, Apple’s supposed control over its supply chain vendors, and the $199 USD price tags of competing products like the Kindle Fire and Google’s 16GB Nexus 7 are taken into account, the $329 USD price may still seem a tad high for a good majority of people. A few further cases that could be made for Apple is that the iPad mini was made using new panel technology, and that supply chain issues may have caused Apple to incur extra costs during the manufacturing process. As justifiable as these reasons may sound, consumers simply looking to buy a small, affordable tablet will ultimately find these reasons irrelevant.

Future iPad mini Prices, Potential Developments, and an Interesting Point Regarding the PPI

For those ultimately not willing to buy the iPad mini at this juncture in time, the good news is that, similar to the case with the iPad 2, Apple will likely lower the price of the miniature tablet at one point. The speculation is that the timing of the price drop may be at around 2H13, also when the cost associated with the product’s panels is expected to lower. In addition to a cheaper iPad mini, one can also expect to see a “retina display” miniature tablet announced as early as the second half of next year (or during 2014, at the latest). From what Apple has shown so far, evolution always tends to begin with a major upgrade to display resolution.

As an interesting side, if one were to look at both the iPhone 3GS and the iPad mini, one would find that both has about 163 ppi. For the iPhone 4, the step Apple took was to double the ppi, turning it into retina display. If history and Apple’s tendency proves correct, we can reasonably expect the same steps to be taken for the new version of the iPad mini. Given that the supply of the current tablet will likely be limited (around an estimated 6 million this year), consumers will benefit for waiting a while longer.

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