Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why the iPad mini is the greatest product Apple should never make

Apple's invite to its October 23 event.

It looks like the iPad mini will be announced any day now. The rumors all point in that direction, and these rumors are starting to get pretty accurate. Product launches seem useless nowadays. 

Apple will no doubt sell millions of these iPad mini things. The market wants a 7-inch tablet – if Android sales are to be believed – so making this product is a business no-brainer. It lets Apple keep its lead in the tablet category. I'll buy one. Maybe even two if the price is right.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I just want to say that I wish Apple didn't make an iPad mini. Steve Jobs was against the idea, stating that 7-inch tablets were "dead on arrival." And for once, Apple will be following instead of leading, adopting the strategy of PC makers: a product variant for every price point.  Instead of saying, "You don't want a 7-inch tablet," Apple is uncharacteristically giving customers exactly what they're asking for.

I don't know what Apple can do to make the iPad mini amazing and revolutionary. I have little doubt that at its heart, it will be just a cheaper, smaller iPad. And though Apple needs a cheaper iPad to compete with the Kindle Fire HD and Google Nexus 7, I wish Apple would keep its eye on the ball and keep making products that change the world. Like the iPad did, and the iPhone did, and the iPod did, and the Mac did. 

I'm probably buying an iPad mini if indeed it does exist. It will do great, no question about it. But a product that Apple needs just so that it can continue to print money falls short somehow. 

The world is closely watching Apple to see what it can do without Steve Jobs. This sounds unfair but if Apple wants to keep its legions of fanboys, it has to answer to a higher standard.

It makes me wonder how much Steve Jobs was involved in the iPad mini and what he would have done in this situation. We'll never know of course, but – call it wishful thinking – I like to think he would have shocked and amazed us.

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