By Jim Karpen on Tue, 10/23/2012
I was glad Apple live-streamed today's event -- something they haven't done in a couple years. If you missed it, you can find a link near the top of the iPad mini page on Apple's web page for the iPad mini. There's also a link to a 4-minute video introducing the new iPad mini. It's well worth watching.
Apple CEO Tim Cook started off the iPad portion of the event with some amazing stats: over 100 million iPads sold the past two and a half years. Over 90% of web traffic from tablet computers originates from the iPad.
Perhaps the most remarkable stat was that the iPad has sold more units in that time than any PC manufacturer has sold computers across its entire product line.
Cook said that there are now over 275,000 apps for the iPad. Other tablets can boast just a small fraction of that figure. Phil Schiller, who introduced the new iPads, took pains to be clear that these aren't phone apps that are simply stretched to fit the larger screen. But they're recreated to take advantage of the larger screen space. And to illustrate this, he compared some of the most popular apps as they appear on the iPad mini to those same apps as they appear on a 7-inch Android tablet. The difference was remarkable. They are simply much more functional.
Cook said that Apple's App Store has over 700,000 apps overall, and that 35 billion apps have now been downloaded. Developers have now earned $6.5 billion on their apps.
Clearly, the iPad is a winner. And now it's quite possible that Apple will dominate the market for 7-inch tablets that's been created by Amazon, Google, and others. Users will pay over $100 more for the iPad mini compared to the 7-inch tablets, but they'll get so much more for that extra hundred: a gazillion apps, and more screen space, while enjoying a tablet that's lighter and thinner than the 7-inch tablets. The iPad mini is .28 inches thick compared to the .41 inches for the Nexus 7 tablet. And it weighs .68 lbs compared to .74 for the Nexus 7.
I think the combination of a thin and light device, but with a larger screen size is going to have a huge impact on the market for 7-inch tablets. And it seems to me that this model could well be more popular than the current iPad, simply because it's so much more portable. I can also envision that many people, myself included, will have both.
So where will Apple go from here? I was somewhat expecting Apple to use in-cell technology in its displays on the new iPads, and also to switch to IGZO technology. But nothing was said of that. Likely that will wait for the next generation of tablets. And likely that will mean even thinner and lighter devices in the future.
Apple's focus is always on the user experience, and shape, size, and weight has a lot to do with that. Apple is clearly leading the way here. And it's clearly way out in front in terms of apps. It's going to be very hard for any other manufacturer to compete with Apple. The only major advantage they have at this point is price for their 7-inch tablets, and that advantage is marginal.