Until now, entrepreneurs had two broad category choices when it came to mobile devices – smartphones and tablets.
With the launch of the iPad mini, it’s clear that a new product market is hotting up – the seven-inch tablet market. The iPad mini is 23% thinner and 53% lighter than a regular iPad, with the screen shrinking down from 9.7 inches to 7.9 inches.
The idea of a smaller tablet could well appeal to busy start-ups – while they have larger screen sizes than smartphones, useful for analysing spreadsheets or presentations, there’s the convenience of actually being able to hold one in a single hand.
Apple has shone a light on a segment that already has notable players, including Google and Amazon. Unusually, Apple is following a market trend rather than blazing its own trail.
“Small tablets have been around in various forms for quite some time, so I think for the first time it means Apple is entering a market where it is not the leader and the market is already populated,” David Kennedy, research director at Ovum, told SmartCompany this week.
“I think that there seems to be less excitement around this launch precisely because we have seen this before. We have seen the operating system and small form tablet before so, in that way, it is not posing a challenge the way the iPhone and the iPad did.”
“Apple’s brand is so strong in the device market, so it will be a serious competitor. But whether it will dominate in the same way the iPad has remains to be seen.”
Ovum predicts sales of tablet devices of all shapes and sizes are set to hit 130 million units globally in 2012, increasing to 349 million units in 2017.
So which devices will be leading the way? And which option should SME owners opt for? We measure up four of the players jostling for pole position so you can judge for yourself.
1. iPad mini
The iPad mini is launching in Australia on November 2 and will carry a premium price. As ever, devotion to the iOS platform would mean a seamless transition to the new device, although there have been quibbles about its low-resolution screen.
- Australian starting price: $369
- Operating system: iOS 6
- Capacity: 16/32/64GB
- RAM: 512MB
- Screen size: 7.9-inch
- Display resolution: 1024×768
- GPS: No
- Dimensions: 200 x 134.7 x 7.2mm
- Weight: 308g
What the reviewers are saying
“The smaller touch targets take some getting used to on the iPad mini, although they’re not any smaller than on an iPhone. However, the iPad mini runs native apps, has a whopping 10 hours of battery life, and is extremely light and portable” – Susie Ochs, TechRadar.
“If you think the iPad mini is just a small iPad, well, you’d be right. But it really needs to be seen to be understood. It’s tiny, light, and has great fit and finish. Its screen is good, but most definitely not of Retina quality. When you see one, and hold one, you’ll know if you want one. We’d direct you to your nearest Apple Store to check one out for yourself…but until November 2, you won’t be able to” – Dan Moren and Jason Snell, Macworld.
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