What to Expect for the iPad Mini: News and Rumors

By Christopher Witrak  OCT 23, 2012 10:10 AM

A look at its potential price, release date, and features.

 


MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Apple will be hosting a media event today at the California Theatre in San Jose, California at 10 a.m. PT, where it is highly anticipated that the tech giant will officially reveal the iPad Mini. Analysts and reporters have speculated on everything about the tablet, from price to its impact on the tablet market. Apple has made no official announcements about an iPad Mini, but it is currently updating its online store. According to AllThingsD, the event will be streamed on its website (via Safari only), on iOS devices, and on Apple TV.

Below is a summary of the latest news and rumors about the iPad Mini.

Price

According to AllThingsD, the consensus on Wall Street places the price of the tablet between $299 and $349. Analysts expect Apple to price the tablet at the price it deems appropriate rather than price the tablet based on competitors' prices.

AllThingsD cited Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu, who said, “We do not believe Apple needs to price as low as $199 to match Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nexus 7 and Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire HD.” Instead Wu reasons Apple will place a price tag of “$299 or $349” on the tablet because this will place it between the iPod touch at $199 and the iPad 2 at $399. The article believes Apple intends the iPad Mini to be a device for consumers “who want an iPad with a smaller form factor,” not just a dumbed-down version of the iPad.

Wu does not think Apple has to worry about customer concern about the higher price, stating, “Regardless, we continue to believe iPad mini is the competition’s worst nightmare.”

9to5Mac.com (via AllThingsD) anticipates a price tag of $329 in the US. Wi-Fi tablets with larger storage capacity will likely be priced at $100 intervals, meaning prices of $429 and $529. The website predicts the minimum price points for tablets with connectivity to 3G and 4G networks will be $459, $559, and $659.

Schimanke (via SlashGear) posted on October 13 a screenshot of an internal system list from German retailer Media Markt, which allegedly shows details about the iPad Mini. The list has an 8GB Wi-Fi iPad Mini listed at 249 euros, or $323. However, the US price may not match the European price based on currency conversion as Apple has not done this in the past with other tablets. Release Date

While everyone expects Apple will officially reveal the iPad Mini tomorrow, rumors say the tablet will hit stores on November 2 in the US and the UK. TechCrunch (via AppleInsider) reported Friday that it received word of a November 2 ship date for the tablet.

Geeky Gadgets and 9to5Mac both corroborate this date from different sources. Geeky Gadgets referenced someone close to a major UK retailer, who also accurately predicted the iPhone 5 release date. 9to5Mac tweeted that it heard this date from various sources.

TechCrunch believes the week-and-a-half between announcement and shipment aligns with schedules of past Apple product launches. Apple announced the iPhone 5 on September 12 with sales at retail stores beginning on September 21.

The Geeky Gadgets source predicts pre-ordering for the iPad Mini will be begin on October 26 (the same date as the Microsoft (NYSE:MSFT) Surface RT tablet launch), though the source expressed less confidence in this date. TechCrunch heard no pre-order date from its source.

Features & Specifications

Almost all rumors and reports have stated that the tablet will come with a 7.85-inch display. The most reliable report came from Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets, who visited Apple’s Asian component suppliers and said he held a "pilot" iPad Mini.

According to AppleInsider, the display itself may be the first to employ “GF2” touchscreen technology. This technology could make the device 18% thinner than the current third-generation iPad. KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated in a research note in August that the iPad Mini will feature GF Ditto technology, potentially giving the company a three to five year advantage over its rival as the first company to commercially mass produce the technology. This technology may become the industry leader for small form tablets.

Images released on October 1 by Nowhereelse (via Apple Insider) shows a dummy iPad mini with a thickness of 7.69 millimeters. The new iPad with Retina display is 9.91 millimeters in thickness. A leaked picture from ETrade Supply (via AppleInsider) of acquired parts of the tablet shows the potential screen aspect ratio of the iPad Mini and its potential battery. These photos show the display panel having an aspect ratio of 4-to-3, or the same as the 9.7-inch iPad. However, the images provided earlier by Nowhereelse suggest an aspect ratio of 16-to-9.

The resolution of the display may be 1,024 by 768 pixels, and this would allow applications designed for the iPad to run without modification on the iPad Mini.

The tablet may use 16.7Whr battery running at 3.72 V, making it three times larger than the iPhone 5 battery, which is a 5.45Whr battery.

As for network connectivity and storage sizes, two reports have been cited as likely containing the correct information. The list from Schimanke posted on October 13 shows storage options of 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB and color options of black or white. For connectivity, Wi-Fi only and cellular are listed as options. SlashGear says the iPad Mini will just have a 3G option for cellular connectivity..

AppleInsider released its own exclusive report with a list of 24 presumed iPad Mini product stock-keeping units, or SKUs. The list overall matches the list from Media Markt if the SKUs have been interpreted correctly, except for the availability of 4G.

The four different models of P101, P103, P105, and P107 likely indicates four different storage capacities 8GB, 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB. The four models either had a “GOOD,” “BETTER,” and “BEST” next to them, probably referring to Wi-Fi only, 3G, and 4G LTE.

Each description either had an “A" or “B” next to it, which can be expected to indicate either the black or white color.

Details on some components have been leaked as well. AppleInsider reported this morning that Noweherelse released alleged images today of iPad Mini components for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS antennas. GPS connectivity would only be available for tablets with connectivity to 3G and 4G LTE networks. The tablet may have Bluetooth 4.0, known as Bluetooth Smart Ready because it can connect to traditional Bluetooth devices as well as smart devices such as heart-rate monitors or pedometers.

Other images from Apple.pro (via AppleInsider) show Lighting connectors purportedly for the iPad Mini.

Availability & Target Market

Brian White stated that he expects 5 million to 7 million units to be shipped for the fourth quarter. White said that more iPad Minis would have been available, but the suppliers have struggled to assemble the tablet. Earlier estimates expected shipment of 10 million units of the tablet in the fourth quarter. Other reports stated that suppliers had trouble with preventing scratches on the bodies of the black iPad Minis, similar to the production problems encountered in manufacturing the iPhone 5. The display panels proved difficult to produce as well.

According to Marketwatch, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who has been very bullish on Apple, projects that Apple’s share of the 7-inch tablet market could reach 50% within a year. He says Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7 tablet could reach 20% of the market share each.

As for the target market of the iPad Mini, Bloomberg released a report yesterday stating that Apple executives will highlight the iPad's educational capabilities at the media event today, according to a person with knowledge of the planning. Steve Jobs starting pushing tablets in education when Apple first released the iPad in 2010, and the company wishes to capture a larger share of the $19.7 billion information technology market in education.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
The author has a postion in Microsoft.