TUAW - The Unofficial Apple Weblog
Rumor Roundup: Self-flagellation edition
After two years of foreplay from the rumor blogs, Apple unveiled the iPad mini onstage last week. Finally, I don't have to write about the thing anymore! Except for this post, and the inevitable "iPad mini HD" rumors that will come in 2013, and so on.
I spent most of the past two years completely unconvinced that Apple would ever build or sell a device like the iPad mini. In fact, it was only when convincing-looking parts leaked out and Jim Dalrymple of The Loop gave his "Yep" blessing to the iPad mini event that I started believing the product actually existed anywhere outside the Mountain Dew-fueled fever dreams of bloggers and the opium-fueled speculation of analysts.
So, in full recognition of the term "turnabout is fair play," instead of poking fun at the rumor blogs this week, this Rumor Roundup is an assemblage of my own boneheaded iPad mini-related quotes from the past several months. Let's all point and laugh, shall we?
A product that's been rumored but never seen for almost two years, the "iPad mini" would serve no other purpose than to cannibalize the existing iPad line. Even if you assume that making a 2,048 x 1,536, 7-inch screen is technically feasible, saying Apple could sell such a device for the current asking price of the iPod touch is downright laughable.
The iPad mini already exists. It's called an iPod touch. Those who claim Apple wants to address the mid-sized market the Kindle Fire took by storm in late 2011 seem to be conveniently ignoring the fact that Kindle Fire sales went down the tubes in early 2012.
As for a lower-priced option to address budget-minded consumers, that already exists too. It's called an iPad 2. Maybe you've heard of it. It's just like the new iPad, only it's $100 cheaper and its screen looks like it's been smeared with Vaseline when you put it next to the new iPad.
I'm sure Apple has been technologically capable of making an iPad mini for years. All the company lacks is the poor business sense to actually release one.
LOLometer reading: 10/10. Man, there's so much wrongness packed into that passage that I don't even know where to begin. So I won't. I think it pretty much speaks for itself... probably after five beers too many.
Even though it failed to surface in 2010 or 2011, 2012 will be the year of the iPad mini! Unless it launches in 2013. Or 20-never.
LOLometer reading: 7/10. I'm dating my checks "20-never" for the rest of this year.
Even assuming the iPad mini existed, it'd have to be just as multifunctional as the iPad Grande it's supposed to complement. Otherwise, why would anyone buy it?
LOLometer reading: 0/10. This turns out to be one of those rare instances where I was right, because Apple agreed with me. The iPad mini is, in Apple's own words, the "condensed" version of the bigger iPad rather than a stripped-down model.
It's well-known by now that Google's margins on the Nexus 7 are razor thin, which makes it incredibly unlikely Apple intends to compete on price alone with an "iPad mini" tablet. It's equally well-known that Apple is selling tens of millions of full-sized iPads per quarter already, while sales of the Kindle Fire tanked after the first quarter and the Nexus 7 hasn't been around long enough to tell what impact it's had.
Despite the new tablet announcements from Microsoft and Google over the past few weeks, Apple still doesn't have any real competition for the iPad. An iPad mini would very likely cause more lost sales for the full-sized iPad than it would for either the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire, two products that seem to be aimed at markets that either can't afford an iPad or just hate Apple that much.
LOLometer reading: 3/10. This turned out to be mostly right; the iPad mini's entry price is significantly more than either the Kindle Fire HD or the Nexus 7. And the iPad mini probably will result in a few lost sales of full-sized iPads over the long term, but its impact on competing tablets will be more difficult to judge since neither Amazon nor Google release hard data on those numbers.
Unfortunately, I kind of went off the meds later on the same day:
No matter how reputable or disreputable the news outlet and no matter what evidence they claim to have, after more than two years of speculation, prestidigitation and obfuscation concerning the iPad mini, I am burnt out on this device and the rumors surrounding it. After 24-plus months of nonsense, there is literally no source worth listening to on this matter other than an Apple executive walking onto a keynote stage holding a miniaturized iPad in his hands.
Until that happens -- if it ever happens -- there is no way I will believe this product exists. And despite the fact that I don't really see any plausible economic reason for Apple to make one, I still kind of hope they do introduce something like an iPad mini just so the rumor blogs will finally shut up about it.
LOLometer reading: 7/10. I got my wish, sort of. Also, note to self: do not blog immediately after spending an entire weekend battling with airport and transit officials trying (and nearly failing) to get from Palmerston North to Auckland, then having your car die on the other side of town when you get back home. For some reason, after going through all that my writing sounded a bit... testy.
I don't see a point to the iPad mini, and it seems Apple would be making a mistake to release a product that would only cannibalize sales of the more expensive iPad Señor.
I almost want the iPad mini to actually be a real, shipping product now. Not to buy one -- count me among the 46 percent who think it's pointless -- but to see how it would do on the market. It seems like a no-win scenario product to me; if it turns out few people want to buy a cheaper, smaller iPad, then it's a failure. But if a bunch of people buy it instead of the more expensive iPad with its presumably fatter profit margins, then it undermines Apple's profits.
LOLometer reading: 8/10. In retrospect, I think a lot of my problem with the iPad mini and why I couldn't see a clear spot for it in Apple's lineup is because I already have a full-sized iPad and an iPhone. I sure don't need an iPad mini, and for me it would indeed be a waste of money. But somehow I forgot about the billions of humans who don't own either of those products -- people who just might be drawn to an iPad that's both smaller and less expensive than its bigger cousin.
I must be the only person left in the tech world who thinks "iPad mini" is a tremendously irksome product name. Why not just go full-on ridiculous and call the iPod touch the "iPad nano" instead?
LOLometer reading: 9/10. I still think "iPad mini" is kind of a daft name, but really, what else was Apple going to call it? And come to think of it, "iPad nano" might actually be a more fitting name than "iPod touch" for the 4-inch device.
9to5 Mac's "best guess" is $329. I don't buy that price at all; Apple's a fan of nice, round numbers for its introductory pricing of premium products, a bit of psychological trickery that's taught in Marketing 101. $299 seems more likely.
LOLometer reading: 10/10. I'm still baffled by Apple's pricing for the iPad mini; a $299 introductory price would've at least given consumers the illusion they could get the base model device for under $300. The extra $30 doesn't seem to have made any difference, though, since preorders are already sold out.
So, we're all caught up now. The lesson here is pretty obvious: it no longer pays to be ultra-conservative when it comes to Apple rumors. There are clearly some internal leaks from Apple, but it's the supply chain leaks that are really killing Christmas morning for us geeks.
And at the end of it all, you must be able to guess what happened: I bought a base model iPad mini the instant it was available for preorder. Stop looking at me like that -- it's not for me.