“We’ve got a little more to show you.”
That was the rather cryptic invitation from Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) to its press event on October 23.
Despite the tease, though, it wasn’t hard to read between the lines.
Confirming the worst-kept secret in the technology sector, the event marked the launch of the iPad Mini – and a fresh bout of Apple hype in the process.
No surprise there, eh?
After all, Apple’s production line consistently drops new devices onto the market. And a smaller iPad was inevitable at some point, right?
Well, not so fast. I’m actually a little surprised by the details here. Why?
Because in the tablet world, size matters…
The slimmed-down version of the massively popular iPad has a 7.9-inch screen – about two inches smaller than the original models.
The late Steve Jobs would not be happy.
I recall Jobs’ famous rant during Apple’s quarterly earnings call in October 2010, in which he skewered seven-inch tablets specifically, stating:
In fact, he questioned the need for a smaller iPad at all, given that:
He declared tablets of less than 10 inches from Apple’s rivals “DOA.”
But in launching the 7.9-inch iPad Mini, Apple’s current bosses clearly don’t agree with their former leader. Bold move!
But if Jobs were alive today, he’d see a remarkable trend – one that Apple and a slew of other tech companies are frantically tapping into…
Sales of both smartphones and tablets are off the charts, with both expected to sell over one billion units worldwide this year. Even bigger growth is projected over the next four years.
For example, the launch of the iPad Mini comes just a few weeks after the hugely successful release of the iPhone 5 in September. Consumers snapped up five million units in the first three days.
In addition to unveiling the iPad Mini on October 23, Apple also launched a lighter MacBook Pro, a refreshed version of the Mac Mini and an upgraded iMac desktop computer.
Apple’s strategy is clear: With the holidays coming, hit the market – and hit it often.
Despite Jobs’ skepticism in October 2010, the launch of the iPad Mini comes in response to a rash of smaller tablets from Apple’s rivals – for example, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab and Google’s Nexus 7.
It also comes just a few days before Microsoft launches its new Surface tablet, as Apple attempts to consolidate its stranglehold on the tablet market. The company boasts a dominant 70% share, according to IHS iSuppli.
So will the iPad Mini be a game changer?
I doubt it. Not in the way that the iPod, iPhone and original iPad were groundbreaking devices.
But here’s what it will do: Tossing another mobile device into the marketplace will merely add to the already crowded space.
Now forget all the publicity and hype for a second. Because there’s another much less publicized story here.
All these new digital products – regardless of who makes them – add more demand to a technology infrastructure already buckling under the weight of increased data.
That’s good news for the companies working to boost data capacity. In fact, total industry revenue is projected to shoot 600% higher in the five-year period to 2017.
It’s also good news for companies pioneering the fastest-growing social trends within the mobile industry. Take mobile gaming, for example. A sector that barely existed five years ago is expected to see sales catapult from $4.5 billion today to $16 billion by 2017.
The iPad Mini and Microsoft Surface are the latest catalysts that will fuel this growth in the coming years.