Tablet Takeover: Why the iPad Went Mini

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Steve Jobs was a strong believer that for the purpose of design and usability, tablet sizes shouldn’t be smaller than 10 inches. Why then has Apple steered away from Jobs’s stern vision and released the new 7.9 inch iPad Mini? While the original iPad was a proactive device that spearheaded a brand new tablet market, the iPad Mini is reactive to the multitude of tablet sizes currently on the market. Let’s break it down:

top tablets
Top tablets by sidduz via Flickr

There are people who can afford the 9.7 inch iPad’s $519 entry price and there are people who can’t. With the iPad Mini’s lower price point of $329, the iPad suddenly becomes more accessible to volumes of consumers who want an iPad but couldn’t previously afford one. Apple realized that if they don’t address this large segment of consumers, their competitors will continue seizing them with tablets such as the Google Nexus 7, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7.7, and the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. Considering Apple’s focus on iBooks at their recent conference, the iPad Mini is also being positioned to compete with Kindle Fire — the top-selling ebook reader on the market. Ultimately, the iPad Mini is Apple’s chance to get a large piece of the pie in a tablet market that’s getting increasingly more cut-throat.

As fierce competition and improved technologies continue to lower tablet prices, the implications will be a mass market of tablet-owning consumers. Similar to the cell phone, tablets will completely infiltrate the consumer market until the majority of consumers own a device. This will obliterate many of today’s conventional norms such as printing documents, reading print versions of newspapers and magazines, and purchasing books through traditional book stores.

We’re already moving in this direction with an expected 133.5 million tablet users in the US by 2015 – and decreasing tablet prices will only drive these numbers higher.

What do you think? Will tablets become a commonplace device?

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