Ronan Price: Small competitors were a big worry so Apple had to act
APPLE marketing boss Phil Schiller spent almost as much time slagging rival products as he did describing the new iPad Mini at the launch in California this evening.
That’s an indicator of how seriously the normally aloof Apple takes the competition in the tablet market.
It’s not full-sized tablets that has Apple worried – the iPad crushes the opposition time after time in that segment. Instead, it’s the emerging trend for smaller and, crucially, cheaper sizes that keeps Phil Schiller and co awake at night.
Google puts its might behind the Nexus 7 tablet last month, producing a seven-inch machine costing just €250 that’s going gangbusters in the shops. At half the price of a full iPad, many people are tempted.
So Apple was forced to act, even though Steve Jobs had disdainfully dismissed smaller competitors as “DOA” in 2010. He was right, until affordable technology caught up this year and competition put pressure on Apple’s fat margins.
Apple also has an eye on the education market, with ebooks fast becoming a reality in many schools. Almost halving the price without sacrificing much usability will serve to cement iPad’s place as the learning machine for the future.
Still, though, you can’t help but thinking Apple could have shaved a good deal more off the €340 basic price (rising to €670 for the top-end 64GB WiFi+3G model) if it really wanted to kill the competition stone-dead.