Since its release in April 2010, the Apple iPad has revolutionized the electronics market. What appeared at first to be a simple evolution of the Smart phone, or a simplified laptop, the iPad proved to be far more than the sum of its parts, and immediately it created a whole new market for tablet computers, with many people happily replacing their home computers with these portable, affordable, and fashionable devices performing the average consumer’s basic needs faster, more efficiently and in more places than had been previously imaginable.
Part of the success of Apple’s iPod and iPhone ranges has been the steady release of new models. Purchased by the public not because of improvements in features, but because of the perceived value for the consumer in having the latest device in a range that is considered a luxury brand and a fashionable item. Whilst other manufacturers have made technically excellent mp3 players and smart phones, nothing has yet managed come close to the brand awareness and desirability of Apple’s products, and this process has been repeated with the iPad.
Since the sad demise of Apple CEO Steve Jobs several analysts have been waiting for Apple to lose its way. People have pointed to minor wrong moves such as the inferior maps of iOS5 as signs of the beginning of the end for Apple, and are quick to point to the lack of major technical improvements in Apple’s latest iPad as a sign that its competitors may step in and take the crown of the leading tablet brand. This is to significantly underestimate Apple and the reasons for the success of their devices.
The iPad Mini is the latest model to be released and is technically inferior to the third and fourth generation iPads, with significantly lower resolution screens, less random access memory and a slower processor than the latest full sized model. However, this is all insignificant to the general public and evidence points towards the Mini being the biggest selling iPad yet. The smaller form factor, being larger and more accessible than smart phones, but small enough to fit into your pocket, make the iPad Mini even better at performing its usual functionality than its larger brothers, and with the bonus of actually being the latest, most fashionable product, but cheaper than the earlier models.
The reason the average consumer won’t be bothered by the lower specifications, is that of course the original, least powerful iPad was more than capable of performing the tasks it was designed for. Apple shines in writing operating systems that work flawlessly to the technical specifications of their device.
So where does this leave the future of the iPad range? It is unlikely that the Mini will follow suit of the iPod Nano and become even smaller, as this would decrease their appeal as tablets, but improvements in technology will allow the newer iPads to become lighter and slimmer. Whilst Apple exist as a luxury brand, it is unlikely that prices of the latest models will significantly decrease, but a higher specification will allow new models to be released at the same rough price points – the smart money is on the Mini 2 having a 1.4 GHz or higher dual core processor and at least 1GB of RAM. The main way in which a technical improvement would make a noticeable difference for the Mini is a higher resolution screen, and there are already strong rumors that a second generation is likely to be released in late 2013 with a Retina display. This would really make it an essential purchase for even the most cynical of Apple’s critics.