The word on the streets today is that Apple plans to announce an iPad mini later this month. Why does Apple need an iPad mini? The tablet with the most market share is the 10-inch iPad. All the seven-inch tablets are being sold at close to the cost of manufacture. Does Apple really need to compete with giveaway products?
Android OS is a giveaway product which has disrupted the cell phone industry in a different way than Apple’s iPhone. Disruption isn’t easy to accomplish, and it’s even more difficult to accomplish a wholesale disruption and make money.
Google, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Samsung, and all the other tablet also rans are having difficulty selling their wares, let alone make a profit. Selling a competing tablet at cost is about the only way they can compete against the iPad.
Will a seven-inch iPad disrupt the low end of the market? It could, but it depends on how low Apple is willing to go on price.
What about every cell phone users dream of an iPhone mini (whereby mini I mean lower price, less memory, perhaps fewer expensive features)? Does Apple really need to compete with giveaway Android products?
For now, Apple’s strategy to cover the low end of the cell phone market is to sell last year’s iPhone at a discount (and in some cases, the year before that). For now, that seems to be working. Apple still has trouble meeting demand on the new iPhone 5, so there’s little incentive to discount a product that is sold out.
Should Apple offer an iPhone mini– an iPhone 5 with 8 gigs of storage, and perhaps minus a few features? No. That stratification is already met by selling last year’s iPhone 4S at a discount.
Bigger news than the iPad mini is Apple’s problems with Maps. Let’s call it Mapsgate. We had Antennagate a few years ago with the iPhone 4, so why not Mapsgate this year?
It isn’t so much that Maps sucks. It really doesn’t. It’s an issue more akin to Antennagate. Was the iPhone 4 antenna worse than iPhone 3GS? No. It was actually better at holding calls and finding signals than previous models, but holding the phone wrong (or, without a case) would cause the signal meter to fluctuate wildly, hence the public outcry, hence Antennagate.
Maps actually looks nicer in iOS 6 than Google Maps, and loads faster (might be my imagination since I’m using Verizon 4G LTE). My usage indicates that there’s far more media noise about Maps than mapping problems most users will experience. It’s not as though Google Maps was perfect. Turn-by-turn navigation works well. I miss the public transit option from Google Maps, but there are iPhone apps that pick up that slack quite well.
Just as iPhone users didn’t care much about Antennagate, I’ll predict they won’t worry much about Mapsgate, either. Apple improved the iPhone’s antenna in both iPhone 4S and iPhone 5. Maps will improve, too.