Are rumors about the introduction of an iPad Mini true? While Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) refuses to comment on the possibility, there have been two recent announcements that have "re-Kindled" the buzz.
A Chinese portal Netease, and another called Macotakara claim that the mini version of the iPad will hit the market in the 3rd quarter of 2012, or early next year. Netease claims that the retail cost of the iPad Mini will be $249 to $299.
Also fueling the chitchat was a recent announcement by Samsung, a major supplier of Apple components, concerning the increase in component sales to Apple attributable to the iPad Mini.
From A Marketing Standpoint
A mini version of the iPad would make some sense. The success of Amazon's Kindle Fire, with its convenient, portable size of 7" and its low price of only $199, may have prompted Apple to develop a product that would compete in this segment of the market.
But just how large a market would there be for an iPad Mini?
According to a recent poll by PriceGrabber, a mini version of the iPad would be a tremendous hit. Here's what the PriceGrabber poll discovered:
- 52% of the 2,603 consumers surveyed said they would purchase a Mini iPad this year if the product became available.
- Of the 48% not indicating an interest in a mini version of the iPad, 22% said that they already own a tablet.
- 68% of those who already own a tablet own an iPad or iPad2, and 10% own the Kindle Fire.
The PriceGrabber poll also asked those consumers indicating an interest in purchasing an iPad Mini why they would do so. Here's what they discovered:
- 84% said that the lower price was the chief consideration.
- 54% liked the smaller size and ultra thin body which would make the unit more portable.
- 25% said that they would purchase the product as a gift.
Samsung Weighs In
A few weeks ago, the Korean Times ran a story about the imminent release of a mini version of the iPad. The story was based on an interview with an unnamed official from Samsung (OTC:SSNLF), a major supplier of iPad components.
Samsung is intimately involved with Apple. Last year alone, Apple purchased over $7.8 billion in parts from Samsung. With the addition of the mini iPad to the Apple product line, Samsung projects Apple's purchases will swell to over $11 billion by the end of the year.
Components purchased from Samsung for various Apple products include processors, LTE chips and solid state storage drives. Samsung says it will also supply the new LCD screen technology for the iPad Mini.
The Bottom Line
If the rumors are accurate and Apple introduces the mini version of the iPad, it will not only demonstrate the company's determination to maintain its dominance in the tablet market, it will also exhibit Tim Cook's leadership and willingness to think outside the Jobian box.
Steve Jobs rejected the idea of a mini iPad claiming that it would be too small to be used as a touchscreen tablet and would therefore not appeal to consumers.
But markets change. Amazon has proven that a small, lightweight touchscreen device has a profitable niche in today's marketplace.
Look for Apple's announcement of the iPad Mini soon.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.