The iPad Mini Seems Crazy Expensive

There's almost no question that the iPad Mini is a terrific device; it's got too much pedigree and money behind it to be anything else. But barring some sort of miracle from on Ive, it's also certifiably overpriced. And that's a bad sign for Apple.

At first blush, the iPad Mini has a lot to recommend it relative to the competition. Apple's managed to put a bigger display on a thinner and lighter device, which — these days, especially — is mobile computing's endgame. iOS is the most mature tablet ecosystem by a good stretch, which is worth no small something. And it comes in 4G, which much of the 7-inch competition currently lacks.

But look a little closer. With products this small that weight difference amounts to barely noticeable fractions of a pound. At 7.9 inches the iPad Mini is bigger than the 7-inch Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7, but the whole point of a smaller tablet is to be, well, smaller. More portable. Oh, and speaking of that display: the iPad Mini's has 25 per cent fewer pixels per inch compared to its Amazon and Google competitors. It doesn't just fall short of retina; it will be noticeably worse.

That's partly because the iPad Mini's processor is a relatively underpowered dual-core A5, compared to the Kindle Fire HD's 1.2GHz dual-core OMAP and Nexus 7's quad-core Tegra 3. It just can't push that many pixels. Along those lines, it's safe to assume that the Mini has half the RAM of its competitors (although that doesn't matter much).

All of which means that when you look at the iPad Mini next to the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7, you get the impression that it's a pretty level playing field. And then you look at the prices.

The 16GB Wi-Fi iPad Mini costs $369, which is more than a whopping $130 more than the equivalent Kindle Fire HD. That's a 65 per cent premium for a device that's not decidedly better in any way other than size and apps. It's only 32 per cent pricier than the 16GB Nexus 7, but that may be for a limited time; Google's expected to cut prices drastically next week.

There's a temptation to say that it's just Apple charging Apple prices, but that instinct is dated. The real genius of the original iPad wasn't just that it was first — it was also cheapest. It took competitors a full year to come up with a tablet that could even remotely compete at $500. Ditto the MacBook Air of the last several years; it set a price so low for ultrabook-style computers that Intel had to start a $300 slush fund to help PC manufactures hit that price point. The Apple of the last two years, thanks in large part to its Apple Store retail dominance, has been simply unbeatable. Until now.

Charging so much more for a product that's not clearly so much better is a major step backwards for Apple, especially given its unfamiliar position in the small tablet space as a follower. You don't enter an established market — Amazon's in its second generation of Kindle Fires already, and has millions of loyal customers at its disposal — by asking people to assume your offering is nearly two times better than what they already know to be great.

At best Apple's iPad Mini pricing is misguided; at worst, it's arrogant. Most of all though, it's surprising, especially given how important smaller tablets are going to be for schools and kids, the trenches in which Amazon and Google are fighting for an entire generation of loyal users.

Is the iPad Mini great? Sure, probably. Will people buy lots and lots of them? Most likely. And considering others aren't officially available in Australia, it might be a bit of a moot point for us. But given the opportunity, most people will decide to save themselves that extra hundred dollars more often than not. And, more importantly, they'll be back on the lookout for the Apple premium of old — the cool tax. There are plenty of things in this world worse than an overpriced gadget. But that doesn't mean we can't scratch our heads over Apple's missed opportunity — and worrisome future.


Comments

    That $300 slush fund really helped! :-)

      Funding companies to buy Slushies has never been a bad thing.

    That should help appease everyone complaining about the giz-apple bias.

    I guess it won't stop an apple fan from buying it nonetheless and knowing they get bitchslapped by apple few months down the track.

      how do you get bitchslapped in a few months?

        I think he's reffering to the iPad 4 commotion.

          yeah i got the reference just don't see how its a bitchslap, so they brought out an incremental update to get the dock connected in line with the rest of their range, and at the same time dropped a larger chip in it, scandalous!! I don't think i would care less if I had the iPad 3. I still have a mid 2009 macbook pro going strong and won't be updating until it dies.

            No no no! You have it all wrong -- Companies aren't allowed to release better products! It's practically stealing from your existing customers!

            To pay top $$ to buy the ipad 3 only to find its already going to be much cheaper and out dated only 4-5 months after launch is quite the bitchslap...

              its what happens, I mean people spend $300 for a pair of jeans that 2 months later are on special for half price, so what, its how it goes, things come down in price. Don't live in the past, even the present moment.

              Welcome to the world of Android phones.

                More like just welcome to the world. This isn't a phenomenon exclusive to apple, or android, etc. Earlier this year I brought the (what was at the time) current top of the line Samsung 55inch LED TV, and low and behold Samsung just had to go and launch a new updated model mere months later! How dare they!

      "I guess it won't stop an apple fan from buying it nonetheless". The trouble is that most of them will already have a full-size iPad. I can't see too many of them deciding they need both nor is there anything about it that would make you downgrade from an iPad 2. They might pick up a few iPad 1 users who want to upgrade but I reckon they will struggle to attract too many other customers for it.

        I love my iPad 3 and won't be buying either the iPad 4 or iPad mini, it simply doesn't make sense. I reckon these will sell quite well though, probably more at the expense of the ipod touch than anything else in Apples lineup. In Australia though, it'll probably wipe the floor with the rest of the Android tablets. As much as people whinge about prices of groceries on todaytonight every week, we have heaps of disposable income relative to america, so I dont imagine the price being as big of an issue. The competition is plastic, has less apps, and doesn't have an apple logo. it could also be marketed as the "real work" tablet of this class too.

          The local car market is hugely price sensitive. The perfect example is the no. 1 best seller, Mazda3. The last version sold OK but was never outstanding. What Mazda did was to make it a bit more cheaply - the interior of the current model is noticeably cheap and nasty compared to the previous one - and they dropped the price to compete with Corolla. It worked because Mazda understood that our market is very sensitive to price. Holden understand it too, which is why they sell thousands of very ordinary Cruzes at bargain prices.

          It might be a little different with tech gadgets but not enough to stop most choosing a Nexus7 for $150 less than an iPad Mini, especially given that there are now more Android phones being bought than iPhones. 18 months ago, if you went into a JB store you'd see 10 shoppers standing around the iPad display while the half-dozen or so Android tablets were completely ignored but today, you'll see more looking at those than at iPad. Apple's share of the tablet market has already fallen below 50% in the US and it won't be long before the same is true here.

    I looked at the price and specs and thought "wow, what a ripoff". It should be at most the same price as the new iPod touch.

    "The others aren't officially available in Australia"?

    My Nexus 7 says hi.

      He's referring to the Kindle Fire HD.

        We have the kindle fire hd at work and it really is just as good, this iPad mini is just waay too high.

        He says 'others' after referring to 'the trenches that Amazon and Google are fighting in'.

        Fair point on the Kindle Fire, which IMO will never see an Australian release due to the dependence on a US-centric ecosystem, but give the cheaper-and-available-in-Australia-now Nexus 7 a bit of sizzle.

    I'm becoming less and less of an Apple fanboy as I can no longer justify loving them when they go out and repackage two year-old technology because of their 'just enough' mentality that merely needs to satisfy the mass market who are largely clueless.

      You do realise you just called "yourself" clueless? Maybe no? After all you're clueless ....

        Well, mate, I didn't, because being part of the mass market isn't a requisite of being an Apple fanboy :) and besides, 'largely' clueless leaves space for one to be quite astute and still in the mass market.

      @Alex A 100% - no way would Steve Jobs have released a product with such an old processor. If you're going to charge a premium price, then make a premium product.

      50-50 odds that there will be a price drop before Christmas.

        Apple dropping prices? Not a chance. It might go down $100 when the next iPad mini comes out, which will probably have an A6 at absolute best. The only reason I'm still with Apple (iOS and Mac) is because they have their sh*t together, and the UI is just generally aesthetic and functional.

    i guess apple feel they have enough people locked into their ecosystem that they can turn the screws a bit tighter

      The sad reality is that there's a lot of truth to that. My wife has an IP4, saw an SGSIII and thought it was awesome and that's what she would get next - until she remembered the hundreds of $$'s sunk into apple apps - at that point she figured she'd just get the next iphone, again, despite it not really being the phone she wants.

        Hundreds? Apps cost a few bucks, how many does she have? Of those, how many does she use enough that she'd need to buy them again? The big issue around this is that the vast majority of the world believe their iTunes music collection will only work with Apple products. Even a couple of colleagues who are reasonably tech-savvy. It's quite scary.

          Doesn't it depend on when you bought them?

    since when are apple products ever cheaper than what other brands offer? I thought it was kind of a no-brainer that iPad mini was gonna be more expensive than the Nexus 7....
    Even though, people will critic it being expensive and lacks the processing power, they will still buy it - apple is likely to sell millions just like they did with the iphone 5 (which has plenty of flaws)... thats just the reality of Apple products...

      iMacs and MacBook Air's are quite competitively priced, at least at entry level.

        Apple never fight spec to spec . . its the overall usability they advertise. Apple have never fought for the bottom tier (Volume sales for minimum profit). It used to be Nokia and Samsung who fought for them. Nokia is dead.

          Nokia just announced new Lumia 500 models and I've been selling quite a few more Nokias lately. Mostly 610s, but we're on the cusp of seeing 920s come on the scene. I don't think "Nokia is dead" is a fair assessment.

    Unless you really, really, REALLY want iOS, there's no compelling reason to get one based on the price alone, let alone the sub-par specs compared to the Nexus 7.

      I don't REALLY want iOS. My phone is the HTC One X and I love it. I just want my 7-inch tablet to have tablet-specific apps. And Android tablets don't have that yet. Look at Spotify, Flipboard, Facebook, Twitter, and countless others. I want Android tablets to be good, but for now, I think I'll be getting the iPad mini.

        But what you don't realise is that the iPad mini will have tablet specific apps designed for 10 inch screen. They are not going to be designed for a 7.85 inch screen. The normal sized iPad apps won't magically look perfect on a smaller iPad mini screen. The developers are going to need to update their apps to support the new form factor and I honestly don't know how many would be willing to do that.

        My guess is, you're either going to get shrunk-down apps designed for a 10 inch iPad screen, or blown-up apps designed for a 3.5 or 4 inch phone screen.

        It's not a good situation for the iPad mini.

          You're wrong on this Michael2. The screen resolution is 1024x768, same as the iPad 2. So the beauty of it is that the ipad mini does NOT require developers to rejig their ipad apps as long as they run on an iPad 2. This is not the situation in Android land, with so many different tablets and so many different resolutions to support. In apple land its standard and retina only.

            its the same resolution, but will the fact that its being displayed on a smaller screen mean that any of those tablet specific apps are now not so friendly? who knows. Developers may find that they need to target the new screen SIZE, not just resolution.

              The touch targets will be exactly the same as the iPhone. So you will have an iPad that looks like iPhone apps that make use of the extra screen space.

              Actually the shrinking of the screen will cause the previously iPad sized buttons to be iPhone sized, which is still very comfortable to use.

              It's still a little uncertain, but a decrease in the diagonal length of elements of just over 20% is probably not going to effect the vast majority of applications that have been designed for the original iPad form.

            It's not just the resolution they need to consider, but the actual size as well.

              The same argument was made for the taller size of the iPhone 5. When it was released, I saw a flurry of updates on apps I use. Regardless of resolution and size, don't underestimate developers. They're pretty awesome.

          Well this is just completely wrong.

    The reason they got into the 7 inch market was to compete in price, and they didn't!? 329 is just horrible, and it's not retina it's not faster it's a tad bigger, they really missed every point of making a 150-250 tablet and just made another overpriced apple product.
    Tell your friends and family not to be idiots and buy this, and spread the word to stop this insanity!

    Apple spends a fortune on developing things for stuff we didn't know we wanted. Along the way they make a veritable fortune from those who love technology and gizmo's. I'm one of them but, lately the development of alternatives, and their support makes me wonder, "what do I want and what will I use it for"? "Do I really need it or just want it"?
    I'll wait and buy my kids a Nexus 7 each for Christmas, 32 Gig model.

    Yup.. this one is a weird tablet for Apple to make.. they packed way too much into it and then the price suffered as a result. Should have kept it simple, like no back facing camera as an example, and kept the costs down.

      A front facing 0.7mp (720p) camera is like a $4 part add maybe $8 of manufacturing overhead, hardly a cost shattering inclusion especially when you charge $300.

        But when you slap an "Apple" brand name on it, the price jumps up about 350%

        A 720p camera has 0.9216MP.

    Apple were never going to compete on price in the small tablet market. Amazon and Google barely make profit on their devices. They are gunning for content through market share. Apple are in the business of making profit on ALL their hardware - iPad mini included. Amazon might be the real winners here if they can extend their content offerings across the world.

    Another pundit who has no idea. The iPad mini will sell well. Comparisons with other non-iPads are meaningless.

      Of course it will, but power-users will always be indignant about Apple's tendency to overcome supposed (planned) shortcomings of a product with unrivalled and intelligent marketing.

    Okay imagine for a second, the mind of someone that doesn't read Gizmodo. I know it can be difficult. Imagine you have no idea what a processor is let alone what 'dual core' means. Imagine you care about things like 'will it fit in my bag' or 'does it feel nice to use'. You are the kind of person that would buy a car thats 3000 more expensive than one with a stiffer chassis because it comes with 4 cupholders not 2. You are a consumer and you are relevant.

    There are tablets and then there are iPads. On paper it might seem like a level playing field but in to the consumers, school kids and Apple fans there is a distinction.

    I am not surprised its over priced, absolutely everything Apple is overpriced. Apple has been over pricing every product they have EVER pushed out since the dawn of time, and it doesn't make a slightest bit of difference. Why? Because Apple has become a designer name (like Calvin Klein), and owning any of their products is a status symbol.
    I'm no apple fan, but if u think for one minute this device won't sell well because of the price yer absolutely insane and have had yer eyes wide shut for the past decade.

    If they start at a high price they can then later on add retina and faster chips at no price increase, just reduced profitability. This way the apple fans are mind blown that they get new features at no increase in price, when in reality the earlier generation owners were just subsidizing the newer more costly to manufacture models buy paying an inflated price. Marketing 101 my friends.

    http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3rhe9f/

    Had to be done.

    apple is a company looking to make profits they have people locked into the iOS iTunes ecosystem and now can take a few years of cheap sales. then when you get really angry they will throw you a bone and call it iJesus

    That's what people said about the taller screen of the iPhone 5. As soon as it was released, I saw a flurry of updates on my apps to support it. Don't underestimate the devs. They are pretty awesome!

    I think you can easily make up the $70 difference between a Nexus and an iPad Mini through buying discount iTunes vouchers.

      I've had an iPhone for over a year and Android devices for nearly 2. In that time I've been lucky to be more than 10 apps, 1 or 2 for $1.99 or more, and the rest at $0.99... so I doubt it. Might be different for other people, but it wouldn't be easy to make up a $70 difference unless you're a power user or simply prefer paid apps.

      And whether you can eventually make up the price difference down the road or not, the iPad mini is still a ridiculous price.

    price was always going to be about this much, Apple already have a device in the competitions 7inch price point, the iPod Touch. What Apple have that the other vendors don't is an established larger tablet at the $500 mark, by placing the iPad Mini mid range between these 2 they've created the illusion that it's well priced and good value for money no matter what's in it or what the competition has to offer.

    Apple have priced it in line with their other products, not in line with competing manufacturers, it's rather arrogant and the worst bloody thing is that it'll sell like crazy regardless.

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