Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference starts on Monday, and while it’s traditionally been a software show, there have been rumours we’ll see some exciting new hardware this year too.
What we probably won’t see however, is a new iPad mini. The product hasn’t been refreshed in a while, and according to insider reports, the smaller iPad’s days could well be numbered.
We're entering the season of giving and receiving, and it's safe to assume that one of the most popular electronic gifts this year will be tablets. With three key platforms to choose from, various price-points, different sizes, and a bewildering array of manufacturers, which one should you opt for? One factor that's well worth considering is durability.
SquareTrade, a company offering extended warranties on electronic devices, has drop-tested ten of the most popular tablets to see which can handle the abuse. The results might surprise you. Perhaps most startling is how poorly some of the big names fared.
Sarah Perez makes the point before I could (oh lazy me): "Apple announces too many iPads". That's the most sensible take on tablets launched last week, and over the weekend copycat stories started posting. Strange thing, there's nothing new about iPad configuration complexity. The number of base SKUs, while way too many, increases by just two.
I first harped on Apple's "too many problem", following iPad mini's introduction two years ago, observing: "It's a crowded lineup, with overlapping features and prices not seen from Apple since the early- to mid-1990s". Crowded is understatement. The mini jacked up the number of basic configurations from eight to 14. However, when looking at all available SKUs, including two colors and carrier-specific models, the number jumped to 54.
Tablets have forever changed the landscape of computing. An entire industry has been formed from Apple's tablet alone -- iPad cases. Yes, cases for the tablet are very abundant from many manufacturers. A search on Amazon, results in a smorgasbord of options, such as color, size and price.
Unfortunately, the market is so flooded that it is nearly impossible to impress with a new case. Surprisingly, a company called Acme Made has done just that with the Ergo Book. It is an extremely svelte case, for which the manufacturer is seeking funding from Kickstarter. Will you back it?
There are two products that I use a lot. My iPad Air and the Logitech Fabricskin Keyboard Folio. Logitech's offering essentially turns my Apple tablet into a laptop when needed. With the recent release of Microsoft Office for iPad, I am in productivity heaven when on the go.
The problem with keyboard cases, is that they can be bulky. The Fabricskin is very svelte compared to other models, but still sometimes I would like a more sleek cover when relaxing in bed. Today, Logitech announces some new models of iPad cases, sans keyboard, and I am excited.
I have no idea what 12-year old kids are interested in -- I am guessing Justin Bieber and Instagram; lord only knows. However, as a tech-guy, I always have my eye on what smartphones and tablets people are using in public. From my observations, iPhones and iPads still reign supreme for tweens. And so, it is not surprising that 12 year old Victoria asked her dad for an iPad Mini.
While many kids are whiny brats nowadays, she took a more responsible approach and created a presentation as to why buying it is a good idea. Her father, rather than simply giving in and buying it, instead tweeted Microsoft to give it a chance for rebuttal. Microsoft responded to her presentation in epic fashion.
You would think that after Apple delivered fiscal first quarter record results -- we're talking $57.6 billion revenue and $13.1 billion net profit -- that investors would be happy. But, no-o-o! Apple shares sank more than 8.5 percent in after-hours trading last night. They are down about 8 percent in midday trading. That's what happens when perceptions about the future, rather than present performance, define a company.
But the problem is bigger than just Wall Street analyst or investor fear frenzy. There's an echo chamber bellowing this fine Tuesday, as bloggers and journalists stumble over one another to sound the loudest alarm. After seeing the headlines on Yahoo Finance -- like "New Apple looks like the old Microsoft", "Cure to what ails Apple can be found in the margins", or "How does Apple get its mojo back?" -- I realize someone needs to do a reality check. Geez Louise, Apple had a fantastic quarter. The apocalyptic reaction is nothing less than insanity.
Starting today, the new iPad Mini with Retina display is available to order from Apple's online store. The tablet was unveiled, alongside the bigger iPad Air (that launched November 1) and other products bearing the fruit logo, three weeks ago during a special Apple event.
Folks looking to purchase one today and get it as soon as possible should take into account the customary initial lead times. Apple lists the 16 GB and 32 GB Wi-Fi iPad Mini with Retina display as ready to ship in one to three business days (lower than its estimates for the new iPad Air -- five to seven business days). The 64 GB and 128 GB Wi-Fi as well as all cellular models are slated to ship in five to ten business days. This applies to both the Space Gray and Silver trims.
Google groupies make too much of third quarter tablet shipment estimates released yesterday. By IDC's reckoning, Apple's global share fell from 40.2 percent to 29.6 percent year over year. Meanwhile, Samsung soared from 12.4 percent to 20.4 percent share. The whole Android market grew at iPad's expense -- that's the popular contention smirked across the InterWebs. Yeah, right.
Apple apologists are quick to give the money rebuttal whenever market share tides turn against the products -- that the fruit-logo company earns more per device than rivals, sometimes all of them combined. The revenue rebuttal is exhausting for being so predictable but often also it's right and no truer than the tablet market. Q3 share numbers make lots of sense behind CEO Tim Cook's shocking decision to raise iPad mini 2 prices by $70 over the original -- that's about 22 percent. Profit share is his priority.
Apple's long-awaited iPad refresh is finally a reality. Apple's new full-size iPad, rebranded as the "iPad Air", starts at the usual $499 price. Apple also unveiled an iPad mini with retina display, with a higher starting price of $399 and retained the original iPad mini at $299. Finally, the aging iPad 2 was also retained with the price unchanged at $399. This essentially proves my theory that Apple's pricing strategy has nothing to do with a "price umbrella" and everything to do with margins.
Apple's primary business model is selling high-margin hardware, so this should come as no surprise. While many like to draw comparisons to the iPod, the limited set of "jobs to be done" allowed Apple to aggressively slash BOM costs, thereby allowing lower prices at higher margins. This approach is no longer viable for the iPhone/iPad because of broader use cases and competition from modular vendors. Based on this, let's take a look at the iPad product portfolio and gauge its impact on Apple's holiday quarter.
New iPads reveal much about Apple's current and long-term device dilemmas. Full-size iPad cannibalizes Mac sales, while mini does the same to the larger tablet. Those are the clear takeaways from yesterday's product launches.
CEO Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs, and perhaps that's a good thing. Where Jobs championed grammatically incorrect "think different" -- as a marketing and product development strategy -- Cook thinks differently, making fundamentally difficult branding and pricing decisions to preserve current and future Apple crops. There's great risk in the strategy and greater by doing nothing.
Yesterday was unquestionably the day of the tablet. Nokia unveiled the Lumia 2520, its first Windows RT 8.1 slate, Apple announced the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina display, and Microsoft’s Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 went on sale.
It was unfortunate timing for Microsoft. On a day when Steve Ballmer and co. would have hoped people would be talking about Surface, they were salivating over Apple instead. The fruit logo company inflicted more damage on Microsoft than just drawing focus for a day however.
It's only a matter of weeks since the last big Apple event at which the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c were announced. Today we have another event to look forward to and while we're not absolutely certain of what's going to be unveiled, the clever money is on the iPad 5, a new iPad mini, new Mac and release details for Mavericks.
Who knows… maybe there'll even be "one more thing"!
When a big tech company live streams a launch event, we usually embed it here for readers to sit back and enjoy. Apple likes to make things difficult though. At last month’s iPhone event it didn’t bother providing a live stream, and you can only watch today’s iPad event if you’re one of the Apple faithful.
To be fair, the restrictions on today’s live stream should surprise no one. It’s exactly the same deal as the iPad reveal last year -- you need to be watching on Apple TV or using Safari 4 on Mac OS X 10.6 or later, or iOS 4.3 or later.
This week Microsoft rolled out two new video adverts -- one pitting Surface RT against the iPad, and the other putting the Acer Iconia W3 next to the iPad mini. The adverts follow the same format as previously with a side by side look at the features on offer.
Of course the comparisons aren’t fair. Microsoft picks areas where its tablet/operating system is strongest, and avoids the areas where it’s weakest -- apps and popularity, for example. It’s a lot like comparing apples with oranges (or, yes, lemons in the case of poorly selling Windows devices) and then pointing out that it’s easy to peel an orange, but you need to buy a separate peeler to accomplish the same task on an apple.