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What do we want from the iPad Mini?

Date

Gadgets on the go

Adam Turner is an award-winning Australian freelance technology journalist with a passion for gadgets and the "digital lounge room".

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Apple CEO Tim Cook takes the stage during Apple's iPhone launch earlier this month.

Apple CEO Tim Cook takes the stage during Apple's iPhone launch earlier this month.

How will Apple convince us we need the iPad Mini?

The launch of an iPad Mini is looking more and more likely, but it's not really Apple's style to offer us choice. It likes to tweak its products to ensure they don't take a bite out of each other's sales. Apple doesn't want you to choose between iPads, it wants you to own one of each. 

It's very unlikely the iPad Mini will simply be a smaller iPad. It would be a major change of direction for Apple and seen as confirmation that Cupertino is feeling the pressure from Android. So what will Apple add to the iPad Mini and, perhaps more importantly, what will it leave out? I guess the real question is what task would an iPad Mini perform better than any other device, keeping in mind that Apple has spent the last few years telling us we don't need a smaller tablet.

Ditching the retina display is one obvious change, along with opting for a less powerful processor, although I don't think these limitations alone are enough to differentiate them. It would still paint the iPad Mini as a poor man's iPad, which is exactly what Apple wants to avoid.

Withholding 3G/4G access in favour of wi-fi-only models is another option. It might have made sense a few years ago, but that would seem a foolish move today considering a smaller iPad is most likely to appeal to people on the go. But it could be exactly the kind of frustrating limitation Apple relies on to ensure the iPad Mini doesn't eat too hard into iPad sales.

There's also talk of targeting the iPad Mini at the lounge room and pitching it as a glorified universal remote control -- perhaps with a built-in infrared transmitter or standalone IR blaster. You can already buy third-party IR blasters for exactly this purpose.

Strategically targeting the lounge room makes sense, as it presents the iPad Mini as a device which lives on the coffee table to perform a specific task without threatening the role of the iPad elsewhere in your life. It would kick off a whole new category of tablets rather than simply play catch up with the smaller Android competition. 

I'm not convinced that a large, fragile tablet-style universal remote would be more practical than something like a Logitech Harmony remote. A 4-inch iPod Touch would be more practical as a remote control than a 7-inch tablet. Even that wouldn't replace the old Harmony 785 on my coffee table, but Apple's marketing machine could open up the idea to a whole new audience which is yet to taste the power and convenience of a universal remote.

How do you think Apple will differentiate the iPad Mini? What would you want from such a gadget?

56 comments so far

  • "And this size is useless unless you include sandpaper so users can sand their fingers down to a quarter of their size." - Steve Jobs hanging shyte on 7 inch tablets, 2 years ago.
    So the iPad mini will probably include iSandpaper.

    Commenter
    johnno
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    October 19, 2012, 12:53PM
    • lol ... I never understood why he said that quote. It totally invalidates the tiny UI on the iPhone. And even more weirdly I've never heard *anyone* pull him up on that either.

      Commenter
      Me
      Location
      Here
      Date and time
      October 19, 2012, 5:54PM
    • Given the much smaller size of the iPhone and iPod Touch, I never understood that quote. I can only presume he said it to bag out a competitor's tablet.

      Commenter
      Gary
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      October 20, 2012, 12:42PM
    • If u think the 7 inh is to small then i hate to hear what you think of all the touch screen smart phones out there.

      I reckon people finger size wont be an issue. Maps, batteries etc etc etc

      Commenter
      .........?....
      Location
      .?...
      Date and time
      October 20, 2012, 5:57PM
    • "Siri get back in the kitchen where you belong". I'd duck you guys.

      Commenter
      James
      Date and time
      October 23, 2012, 1:21PM
  • If it weighs less, folds up to pocket size, has accurate maps, at least 500Gb hard drive, it will be a start. Find me a taxi in any country, at any time of the day.

    Also, can it make me a coffee on demand & wash my car (possible vacuum the house & clean the bathrooms, but I can wait for version 2 for those)

    You did ask what we want it to do (nothing about what we'd be happy for it to do or even settle for - those are different questions)

    Commenter
    paully
    Date and time
    October 19, 2012, 1:00PM
    • If it could just combine the coffee on demand with Siri it would be well worth the price, assuming that means espresso.

      Even at the cost of a top model iPad it would be way cheaper than current 'automatic' coffee machines.

      Must try asking Siri for a capuccino 1 sugar and see what happens, never know?

      Commenter
      Richardw
      Date and time
      October 20, 2012, 5:05AM
  • Keep it light weight, triple battery life, outfit it with LTE, a minimum 500Gb solid state memory and have screen made of sapphire crystal just like they have in upmarket watches for high resistance to scratches.

    Commenter
    iPhil
    Date and time
    October 19, 2012, 2:09PM
    • LTE likely.

      500Gb a biit too pricey to include.

      Sapphire crystal is what they are using on the rear camera on the iPhone 5 - again probably pricey to cover whole screen.

      Personally I'm not sure what would be a sensible feature, the IR thing is becoming a bit unnecessary as other consumer devices get WiFi &/or ethernet.

      At the moment I can control my Sony BD player or Samsung TV or my AppleTV from my iPhone or iPad.

      The big issue at the moment is co-ordinating control of the devices from different manufacturers, all of whom have their own apps.

      Commenter
      Richardw
      Date and time
      October 20, 2012, 5:09AM
  • I just want a small tablet that is portable for someone who does not carry any kind of bag/ purse/ backpack on the go. It HAS to fit in a jacket pocket. I love my ipad but it only travels on big trips with me on holidays not on daily trips and commutes. If the mini fails me I am straight onto the Nexus 7. Smart phones and ipods are way too small for webpages & vid.

    Commenter
    Portoplease
    Date and time
    October 19, 2012, 2:57PM

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