People say now the MBAs has taken over Apple at the wake of this announcement, etc. If you don’t know why they’re releasing a mini tablet, you are blind and/or a fanboy. Put it this way: one size never fits all. It’s as true as Moore’s law. It’s why there are 2 iMacs, or 2 Macbook Pros. And why shouldn’t there be 2 (or more?) iPad size factors? I welcome Apple’s new move, it’s more progressive, more demographic, it offers choice with the minimum compromise. It has a reasonable price point for what you get, too. If Apple is serious about dominating the tablet space, they have to release multiple form factors.
The problem is, actually, if you compare the Mini with, say, the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. The Fire HD is a terrible machine overall, but for certain specific applications, nobody does better. One of these is watching/consuming media: reading and watching videos. Both of my parents bought tablets in the past 12 months. Mom got the original Fire, and Dad got the Nexus 7. Dad uses his mostly to browse websites like Craigslist, Mom uses hers for Chinese/Korean/Japanese soaps. Now that I know what they use these things for, I would not hesitate to get mom the Fire HD if she wants another one for Christmas, or an iPad for dad. The only real advantage for the iPad mini for Mom (and it would be the one to get since she has a history of RSI/carpal tunnel), is that she can ask one of her Apple fashionista friends to do tech support, and not me. I think Dad doesn’t want an iPad because that contrarian streak is part of the family DNA and nobody wants an iOS device as everyone has one, plus Android tabs are better deals. Well, a refurbed iPad 3rd generation is a great deal now.
For the record, I’m very much ecosystem neutral. I evaluate based on merit. Mostly. I’m glad I dodged the bullet on the 13″ Macbook Pro w/ Retina. If it had a 650M I would have had to sell my 15″ and trade it in.
The other concern about fragmentation (as in, Apple is fragging more of their ecosystem) is valid, but ultimately near-sighted. With Android, it’s a good case study on how fragmentation impacts user uptake and developer uptake. I think ultimately we have to recognize that fragmentation is the future. There’s no way around it. You might as well bite the bullet early. Apple definitely has a big head start by not fragmenting their ecosystem, but the time will come when they have to (to grow marketshare with more devices, to differentiate their existing product lines, etc). Well, they already did with the iPad. It’s not a stretch to do it again, as soon it will be a reality for all devs in this space.