More thoughts on the rumored iPad Mini based on Gruber’s Article

Posted on July 10, 2012

John Gruber of Daringfireball wrote a great write-up of his current expectations for the iPad mini. He had a few thoughts on the size, screen and price.

On the screen:

 the rumored device has a very specific screen size: 7.85 inches diagonally, 1024 × 768 pixels. That’s far closer to 8 inches than 7. In fact, it’s closer to 8 inches than the 9.7-inch iPad-as-we-know-it is to 10 inches — so if you want to round to the nearest integer, it would be more accurate to call it an 8-inch iPad than a 7-inch one. Plus, the aspect ratio matches the iPad, not the iPhone/iPod Touch.

So, the 7inch iPad may well be an eight inch iPad. The idea here is that it is just big enough to show iPad apps scaled to be smaller, but with buttons that at a just big enough. This may work, but ideally, apps would be built to adjust to the different physical screen size. New iPad application designs should be done taking into account both screen sizes; a kind of responsive design for tablets.

On the screen resolution:

 If Apple were to ship a 7.85-inch iPad with a non-retina 163-ppi display, it would signify that one of the key factors they’re optimizing for is cost. Unlike that iPod Mini, which was smaller but cost almost as much as its bigger sibling, perhaps this iPad Mini is smaller and costs much less — at the expense, for one thing, of display quality. This, of course, would pave the way for a retina update a year or two down the line.

Which in turn suggests a way to turn this strain of skepticism on its head. Apple, to date, has never introduced a new iOS form factor with a retina display — they add retina displays as upgrades two or three years after devices hit the market.

There are some good comments here. I think the most compelling is that Apple would consider a non-retina display to hit a lower price point. However, I still feel that a retina display would be more appropriate for a device that you read one. That’s to say, you should be able to select an iPad mini because its use cases are superior to the iPad 3 for you!

On price:

 Here’s why I think Apple could sell it for $199. If Google can sell the 1280 × 800 pixel Nexus 7 for $199 and break even on it, I think Apple could produce a 1024 × 768 7.85-inch iPad for a break-even price of, say, $150. Charge $199 and that’s a decent (but, admittedly, low by Apple’s astounding standards) 25 percent margin.

Why do I think Apple could produce it for less than Google/Asus? Because Apple has such tremendous economy-of-scale advantages. 

Gruber goes on to say that Apple will accept lower margins on the iPad mini to ensure it has control over the whole table market. That’s to say, it will take a longer term view that sacrificing short term profits for long term market share is a better path to long term sustainable profitability. I think this is very much in line with Apple’s thinking, and would be a very good reason for Apple to enter the mini-tablet market.

Here’s the thing though, if Apple’s only reason to release a smaller tablet it cost, and they don’t spend enough time fully understanding what people would do with a smaller tablet versus a bigger one, they might release a poor product. Fortunately, this is something that Apple’s DNA should prevent it from doing.