iPad Mini versus Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD - The only thing that might save it
Apple is rumored to be pricing the iPad mini at the following price points (let's stick to wifi model):
$249 - 8 gig
$349 - 16 gig
$449 - 32 gig
$549 - 64 gig
This really makes sense to me. The iPod touch is priced at $299 for 32 gigs, meaning that the iPad mini would command a significant premium to it (150 dollars). At the same time, it represents a 150 dollar saving compared to a 32 gig regular 10.1 inch Retina iPad, and is a lower price point than the current iPad 2. It all makes sense, so I'm pretty confident about the above pricing. But what about the competition?
Sure, the iPad Mini is from Apple, and they have the strongest tablet-specific app repository, and they can command a premium entry point of $249 rather than the $199. I think what a lot of people keep on overlooking both here and on the Android forum is the storage capacity that you get with the price. A lot of comparisons are being drawn between the iPad mini and the Nexus 7 or the Kindle Fire, which are both admittedly great tablets with good backing on the ecosystem end (apps, music, movies, etc) but most fail to acknowledge the key thing here:
None of these tablets have expandable storage! What you get on the device, is what you are stuck with.
With that in mind, let's look at the pricing of the competition.
Kindle Fire HD (add 15 dollars to get rid of ads)
$199 - 16 gig
$249 - 32 gig
The Nexus 7 is currently behind here, but there are lots of rumours and evidence pointing to an storage upgrade for it, including a full listing on Staples, that suggest that the current 16 gig model will be replaced with a 32 gig version, and the 16 gig model will be relegated down. Assuming (with a great deal of confidence) that this happens before the holiday shopping season, the pricing for the Nexus 7 will match the Kindle Fire HD:
$199 - 16 gig
$249 - 32 gig
So for $249 dollars, would you rather have a 32 gig Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD, or an 8 gig iPad Mini? Sure, the iPad mini will have a rear camera which is obviously lacking from the other two, but is it really worth it?
It's 4 times the capacity folks!!! Isn't that a really huge factor when it comes to a media consumption device, which is a 7 inch tablet almost by definition is?
As well, this is completely ignoring the fact that the iPad mini will most likely have the A5 processor from the iPad 2, which is 2 years old now, versus the Nexus 7's Tegra 3, or the Kindle Fire HD's newer TI-OMAP4460 dual cores. But from what we know about iOS's optimization, it runs the operating system smoothly, so this point is rather moot because in the end the experience is what really matters. For the record, the Nexus 7 also offers a very smooth experience, and so does the Kindle Fire HD, though to a lesser extent. But I still think it's worth pointing out, because it's also about what you get for your money, at least in terms of hardware.
The way I see it, the only thing that will make the iPad Mini even remotely worth the premium, is if it came with an exceptional Retina display. Unfortunately all signs are pointing otherwise, and the mini seems poised to come with the iPad 2's 1024 x 768 resolution, which is already inferior to both the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire.
... Yes, I am aware that resolution isn't everything and color gamut, accuracy and other factors matter greatly too, but to a consumer, the immediate numbers matter most when comparing 2 products. Is the Apple factor really enough to justify a 1024 x 768, 8 gig tablet for the same $249 as a 32 gig, 720p tablet from other well known brands such as Amazon and Google?
I think not.
If the iPad Mini doesn't come with a Retina display, I think it's going to be a much much less successful release than we have become accustomed to by Apple.