Is The iPad Mini The Beginning Of Apple's Decline?

First, I have been an Apple shareholder for about 10 years. I haven't sold my stock yet — but, for the first time, I'm thinking about it. I'm worried that I'll decide to sell after it's too late.

Anyway — here's the thing. I bought an iPad Mini. It was too cheap not to give in to curiosity, to see if it's more compelling or useful or whatever than the high-end iPad that I already have. Executive summary: it is not.

Here's the list of problems.

1. I already had a great iPad. It's big and heavy, and it hurts my arm to read in bed. It's my primary bed computer, and also the second screen when I'm watching TV. When I read in bed it leaves impressions on my arm where it rests. I can't imagine this is good for the circulation in my arm.

2. I could use the iPad Mini, but I don't. People say they don't mind the grainier screen, but I do. If I have a choice, and I do, I always pick up the bigger iPad with the easy-to-read high-resolution screen.

3. What about as a travelling computer? Well, there too I go for the larger iPad, because it has LTE. It's very functional, in my knapsack, when I go out. I switch it over from Wi-Fi to LTE when I go out. And I turn on Bluetooth, so that my iPod (blue, 32GB) has a way to get on the net. The iPad Mini could be a replacement for the iPod, I suppose. But it doesn't fit in the pocket as well. (However it does fit in my pocket, which is cool. Maybe I should try replacing the iPod with the Mini.)

4. But here's the verdict, the reason why I think this product is making Apple's stock dive. Steve never would have shipped it. I know people have been saying that about all kinds of things ever since he died. Steve wouldn't have done this or that. I've stayed away from saying that — even though the thought has popped into my head — because I've never felt certain, and I don't think it's fair to say something like that unless you really feel it in your gut. But this one is kind of obvious. Technology has to keep getting better. Once you've shipped an iPad with a super high-resolution "retina" display, you can't ask people to buy a new one that doesn't have it. Steve wouldn't have done it.

5. Some features are just features, like a camera, but the resolution of a display isn't a feature. It's integral to the product. It's like trying to sell a car with a fuzzy windshield. Everything you do with the Mini is a reminder that you could be using a nicer product. Always having the nicest thing is what Steve's Apple stood for.

6. The new Apple is willing to compromise. And what are they compromising for? Well, it looks like they're doing it so they can "compete" with Google and Amazon. But again — Steve's Apple never deigned to do something as crass as "competing". It was a foreign concept. Steve's Apple was so far in advance of everyone else, it was ridiculous to think of them as competition. But here is the new Apple inviting comparison to something else. But the comparison that's inevitable and damning, is the comparison between the Mini and its predecessor, the iPad 3. And in that comparison the newer product is a dust-catcher. Its battery is always fully charged. It never gets off the night table. It was an obsolete product the day it shipped, and the day before it shipped.

By the way, this is why the orchestrated reviews of products are often worthless. I invite Mossberg, Pogue or Gruber to re-review their iPad Mini now, a week after their initial reviews, and let us know if they're actually using it. And if they still think it's a winner. I believe it's not only not a winner, but it signals a new Apple that's no longer beyond compare, no longer insisting on delighting its users to the point of orgasm. This Apple is content to be a competitor. Not my idea of what Apple is, and definitely not Steve's.

Image: Osipovfoto/Shutterstock


Dave Winer is a software developer and editor of the Scripting News weblog. He pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining,and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School and NYU, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in New York City.


Comments

    I hope so.

      +1 hopefully people will start wising up to their shenanigans, all they seem to care about is exploiting their fan base and separating them from their money as often as possible

        What does it matter if its Apple or someone else a fool and his money are soon parted. Don't blame Apple for people thinking they need to upgrade every time a new model is released, my 2009 MBP is still doing me fine.

        ....Which is completely different from every other company on Earth, right?

      Why? How is less competition in the marketplace a good thing. Competition drives innovation. We need Microsoft and Apple.

        True, I was just venting my hatred for Apple.

      What a massive load of fanboi drivel.
      Apple, has and allways will be, tech for idiots. Saying their inferior overpriced rubbish wasnt meant to compete and is above 'everything' makes me die a little inside that people can chew and swallow marketing bullshit and regurgitate it with glee.

    It seems like everyone is waiting for the demise of Apple, or the decline of Apple, the next "iProduct-killer" etc etc etc. Yet all the lines on Apple's sales and revenue charts are going up. I agree the iPad Mini missed the mark and maybe Apple's dominance is in decline as competing products mature, but Apple aren't going anywhere any time soon.

      *And the iphone 5.
      *And the ipod nano.
      3 products in 1 year.

        And the iPhone 5 what? You're not suggesting it missed the mark are you? Or do you Subscribe to the Luke Hopewell view of 'don't buy it because the apps have black bars'

        I upgrade to the 5 from the 4 and it's fantastic. Seriously fantastic.

        By the way, it's selling its nuts off.

          I agree, I reluctantly upgraded too (Wife's 3G finally died and she insisted on not getting a new phone so I gave her my 4S) and I must say, it is the complete phone. Can't see how I could step back to 4S.

          No, I don't subscribe to any the tripe that is somehow misinterpreted as "journalism". It seems that nearly every article he writes we're correcting him on something or other because his research is google spec. As for the iphone 5 comment, I threw it in there because, like the other products mentioned, it was not innovative. It did not push ANY boundaries, it did not improve on ANY of the hardware already available in the 4S, it did not add ANY new features that are now considered standard (NFC the kicker, and while wireless charging isn't standard yet, they should have added it anyway), don't even get me started on maps. There was absolutely no polish or thought given to the iphone 5 and absolutely nothing was done to make it stand out from the rest. I stand by the comment that everything apple has released this year, has been sub-par.

      I don't think anyone really wishes the demise of Apple. They served a purpose back in 2007 by pushing to market not a revolutionary product, but a product that has defined and directed the mobile landscape in a certain way.

      The thing that most annoys people though, is that Apple have this "almighty ignorance" that they created all things rectangular with curved edges, and all of the awesome technologies that came along with it. Its not true, and never will be no matter how many commericals say it is. Its also the patent disputes, which to be honest, is totally unbecoming of Apple and has resulted in a loss of fan base, a loss of face, and a loss of shareholder confidence.

      In the end Apple's share price will rise and fall. I doubt very much Apple will die as a company, however I truely believe, in the not to distant future, they will struggle by not innovating and changing. The 7" iPad (7.9" still means 7" - didnt Jobs say he'd never make a 7" tablet?) is nothing new. iOS still looks the same o same o, and whats more, its still is rectangular with curved edges - essentially 2007 tech in a new shell 5 years later - and thats where the problem lies....

      Apple is repeating history. Its the new Blackberry. The Blackberry model has shown us - "innovate or die"... now is the time to innovate!

        "I don't think anyone really wishes the demise of Apple."

        I do. The sooner they go the better.

          The question is... why do you care? It's just a company that makes you feel superior for not supporting it. Anyway, I'm cool with Apple. Whatever, I used to love them in the 90s and the early 00s when they were clawing their way back, but they're getting a bit boring now. I still think most of their products are pretty good though the mini seems kinda pointless indeed.. a step back that they never should have taken.

          no competition from apple mean every things going to cost more i hate apple so much but we need them

          I agree. Their litigious business practices are disgusting. Apple has gone from raising the bar, to desperately trying to drag the competition down with them. For everyone's sake, they either need to get back to innovating, settle into mediocrity, or disappear, because their current stance is destructive.

    I agree. But I dont really think the iPad mini designed as something else for apple fans to buy; i.e., its not designed for people who already have the iPad. If you do, all you will do is miss the speed and resolution (which is only noticeably "Bad" if you own and use a retina display device. I really dont think this is the decline of Apple, they are just opening up the iPad world. Are you meant to buy every single mac? No. There are just more than one options. You buy one, maybe two if you buy an iMac and an air or something. But you dont buy every single one. Its the same with iPad mini IMO. Its not an iPad that you buy if you already have one, its a new option. And I really want one.

    What tripe, Apple share price was about $10 ten years ago if you look at historical charts of it's price. I'ts now around $700 or something and the authors opening sentence says "I'm worried that I'll decied to sell after it's too late". The whole article is garbage if they guys not smart enough to get out at $350 for fat profits if they're on the way down. Bet he doesn't even have any Apple shares.

      actually, aapl's stock price is below $550 now - it's been in decline ever since it's height of $700 - bang on sept 21, when the iphone 5 was released.

        $550, $700, whatever, it's a bit more than ten bucks. You obviously have missed the actual point of my message.

          Yeah exactly, shareholders shouldn't expect to have their shares increase anymore.....

          rofl. Don't invest on stockmarket bro.

          550,700 whatever?? are you kidding. Apples stock has declined from $700 to $540 in under 2 months! that's a decline of over 22%. so you don't think a company losing nearly a quarter of its value in such a short amount of time after the launch of 2 major new products to be a big deal?

          Yeah, and if you bought it at $600 then you've already losing nearly 10%.

            The point for the numbnuts above was that he got in at $10, the author said he was worried that he'll decide to sell when it's too late. if he doesn't know when to get out he's an idiot. I wasn't commenting on sharholders shouldn't expect their shares to go up (strike one for mortal), I wasn't commenting on people who bought at $600 (strike one for Arvo). And unlike mortal, who obviously doesn't invest in the market I do. If I had $10 shares that had gone to $700 and were now $500, if I genuninely though there was no more upside, only downward, then it would be time to sell. What a pack of idiots here.

              steve, there appears to be only one idiot in this discussion. What you are saying makes no sense. Do yourself a favor and stay out of the comments AND the share market, you will save yourself both embarrassment and money!

      Actually the shares are at $542.83 at the moment. They hit around $700 with the iPhone 5 announcement and have been on the way down since. The iPad Mini hasn't helped as historically share prices jump back up with new product announcements, but this one hardly did anything.

    Whilst I understand clearly the points you are trying to make in this article I feel there are some fundamental flaws in your argument.
    First of all you are considering the iPad Mini solely as an addition to an apple laden collection of technology. Which yes, rightly or wrongly may be how Apple has chosen to market its latest addition, but hell if you can get consumers to buy both why not right? I think its important to look at the iPad mini not solely as an accessory to your outstanding accumulation of apple products, because by its design it appears to serve essentially the same functions as the original iPad but provide the option of convenience for those who prefer a smaller tablet. A large complaint of the iPad to date is that in comparison, it is unwieldy to hold due to its size and weight, a flaw you seem to have highlighted yourself, so this product provides an alternative.
    I also feel that due to its cheaper price it is positioned (whilst not marketed so) as a gateway product, for those who have perhaps been resistant to the technological changes to date, and have not yet moved into personal mobile computing such as tablets and smartphones, the cheaper price, and yes reduced functions such as lack of retina display, indicate this, but for those looking for a cheaper entry with little associated risk into the mobile PC industry, super sharp display probably isn't a huge consideration.
    So I put it to you that perhaps the iPad Mini should be viewed in two ways, as an alternative to the new iPad and not an accessory to, and also as a gateway product for laggards or the late majority yet to try their hand with these sorts of products.

    Apple is becoming less apple-like. Until the last year apple had very few product lines, but these are increasingly being split. Would the 'old apple' have released a clearly superior retina macbook and still maintained the pro? Now there are 3 tiers, air, pro and retina. Apple was always a company with a small, stripped down product line. Why are they expanding it? Same with the iPad, splitting it in two between an inferior mini and a full size iPad isn't apple. Apple tells you 10" is the right size and you get a 10" product. they have never been one to offer the consumer much choice, and that isn't a bad thing.

    Personally I am moving away from apple, after 6 years of being a loyal mac/ipod/iphone/ipad user I have moved my phone to android, my next computer will run windows 8 and I don't see myself buying another iPad. Apple used to be miles ahead, both in hardware and software, but they have lost their edge on both sides.

    "Steve’s Apple was so far in advance of everyone else, it was ridiculous to think of them as competition." This guy has obviously never used any Mac computer.

    "... a new Apple that’s no longer beyond compare, no longer insisting on delighting its users to the point of orgasm." 'Antennagate' doesn't sound like any kind of orgasm-inducing experience to me.

    Last edited 13/11/12 11:58 am

      Antennagate was a lot of crap, I have been using an iPhone 4 for 18 months and never had any reception issues. There was a time pre-ultrabook that Apple laptops were far superior to the "competition" and in a lot of ways still are although the field is catching up fast.

      PS you hate Apple and don't use any of their products so why even comment?

      Last edited 13/11/12 12:03 pm

        Because he is allowed to comment. You don't need to own Apple products in order to be allowed to comment on them.

        Geeeez.

          Agreed but he's a serial troll on Apple boards.

            Really? I can't recall ever visiting any "Apple boards", much less posting anything.

          Its a free world so he's allowed to comment. But if you wanted someones opinion on how to have great sex, would you listen to a virgin?

            Correct, however he doesn't have to be a hen to tell if it is a good egg or bad egg.

        There was never a time when Apple laptops were even close to as good as the best PC laptops. e.g. What Apple laptop ever had QuadroFX graphics? Hell, they don't even have trackpoints and they were at least a year behind PCs in getting USB 3. In fact, it is pretty much the opposite of your statement - Ultrabooks are very low-powered compared to the current MacBook line-up with their Retina Displays, discrete graphics and full voltage quad-core CPUs. Of course, there are plenty of PCs with those kinds of specs too, just don't expect to see too many of them in Harvey Norman or JB.

        Before I bought my new laptop last week, I checked the Apple offerings and they were pathetic. $1300 would have got me a 11" Air with Core i5 and 4Gb RAM, not the gorgeous 15" PC I got with Core i7 and 8Gb RAM. That's 1600x900, not the Air's 1366x768, plus twice the battery life, a brighter screen and more ports (both with 128Gb SSDs). With JB offering $100 off any Mac, it would have made the 13" MacBook Pro $50 cheaper but that thing has a HDD, something my last 4 PC laptops have not had (although the oldest of those did come with one).

        P.S. I spend at least 6 hours a day using a fully kitted-out MacPro, which is kind of the exact opposite of not using any of "their products". I'm confident it gives me a far more balanced insight than you.

          I was referring to the user friendliness and design of laptops in the 07-09 period where Apple introduced multi-touch and a form factor that was just the black plastic box that everyone else was pumping out. It seems in the last few years the other manufacturers have been playing catch up. Maybe not so, as you have pointed out, when it comes to power users and specs on paper but certainly when it comes to customer experience and design.

          But hey you were using a fully kitted out MacPro so what would I know lol.

            Really? What rock were living under back then? My first laptop was a Dell XPS M1330, bought in 2007, and it was way more stylish than any MacBook. I priced a MacBook when I was deciding what to buy and it would have cost me $4800 to buy a MacBook with all the features I wanted, when the M1330 was $2600 and exceeded my requirements in a couple of areas. Now my nephew is using it at uni every day and it is still chugging along, more than five years later.

            As for customer experience, Dell put Apple to shame. The M1330 came with next-day, on-site service (free on all XPS machines). When, thanks to a defective nVidia chipset (which also affected MacBooks), I had to get the motherboard replaced, I emailed them from China and the guy arrived at my door less than two hours after I arrived home and did the job in 30 minutes. If I had bought a Mac, I'd have had to take it in myself and leave it there for a week or two while they fixed it.

            I'm not sure what the reference to multi-touch is about - if you have a three button scroll-wheel mouse you never want to use a trackpad.

            BTW, no past tense on the MacPro, I use it every day at work and will probably have to put up with them for the foreseeable future. To be fair, a lot of the problems with them are down to how poorly they work on big networks but there are a few aspects of OS X that are absolutely infuriating and the editor's PC workstations seem to run much better on the same network.

              I'm just not feeling it. The XPS look awful. Each to their own, I personally like being able to use the touchpad, I bought my macbook for recording on Pro Tools and the multitouch trackpad was a killer feature, not to mention how much better Pro Tools ran on OSX compared to Window in those days. So I was living under a rock i was making it

              Last edited 13/11/12 4:43 pm

                There are dozens of XPS laptops and they have many different looks. The M1330 was a precursor to the second gen Air, in that it was tapered and incredibly svelte for it's specs. Thank Dog we're not stuck with dinosaurs like ProTools, I'd still be on hardware if that's all the choices we had.

    It's not what Steve would have wanted. How many times is that repeated in this article. Sorry apple has to move on from Steve Jobs. It's not like apple can get him back this time.

    If you are a shareholder and you want to make a stand say something or sell your shares for a company you actually do want to succeed.

    Unfortunately the Steve Jobs era has passed and I can see that many people are touting the what would Steve have done. Apple will continue to produce products and people if they like them will buy them. And if not. Then they will go to something else. End of story.

    And that's what Steve would have done too.

    "...it signals a new Apple that’s no longer beyond compare, no longer insisting on delighting its users to the point of orgasm."

    And for those of us outside the reality-distortion field, nothing changes. Apple is just a company like any other that makes and sells things. It's known to be about as litigious as Scientology and its industrial design is noteworthy, but every company has good and bad runs. Maybe Apple's users (Dave included) are finally realising that Apple has always been a competitor, and despite having some very nice things its biggest success has been to dress up the ordinary as though it were extraordinary, and sell it as such with a price to match.

    Hopefully, but I think it'll be the patents that kills them in the end. They're putting more money into court costs then they are into the tech or research

    i've owned alot of mac products & the ipad mini is one of my fav's. As a photographer i'm always lugging around stacks of gear, so a small & compact tablet suits me perfectly.

    Just as we thought - gizmodo are apple shareholders which is why they can do no wrong.

      Last I checked, Gizmodo USA were shamelessly bashing every Apple product released since Apple stopped inviting them to keynotes after the iPhone 4 debacle.

    make it $299
    so it looks LIKE half price to iPad 4 which is $499 (In US)
    and people will think

    I don't think the device itself is the problem but the change in company philosophy since Mr Jobs passed away. It's not just the iPhone 5/iPad Mini decisions.. it's other stuff too.. like paying out dividends, like forming a truce with Samsung.. the mentality/philosophy has changed.. and with it consumer confidence in them is dropping.

    There's nothing wrong with an iPad Mini.. nor a 4" iPhone... but there is something wrong with the company.

    "It was too cheap not to give in to curiosity,"

    I beg to differ.

    One of the major complaints about it was the price. The thing is way too expensive for what it is, especially when compared to something like the Nexus 7, which is not only significantly cheaper but also significantly better specced.

    Last edited 13/11/12 12:28 pm

    So...a software developer and journalist has too many gadgets to play with and then doesn't use them all...it's a pretty big leap to go from there to suggesting this indicates apple's decline.

    Seriously...the number 1 problem to prove this is that the author already owns a cellular iPad 3? If you already have an ipad 3 then an ipad mini will feel like a step down...I don't think this would surprise anyone. Who needs multiple tablets in their daily life? Surely 1 is enough for the vast majority of people and when they choose which is right for them then getting the most out of the dollars they spend and the volume/weight of the device they carry is important. Failing here to see that this product has merit to a decent chunk of people smacks of 'i am the centre of the universe' journalism...not a fan.

    This article is relevant to existing iPad 3 owners thinking about adding a second tablet to the mix. Everyone else should identify that someone complaining about skin impressions and sore arms while using their 'primary bed computer' is perhaps not someone that faces the same challenges in their daily life as your average consumer and hence their opinion may not be relevant to you.

    Lastly...the final paragraph...wow. Taking a dig at reviews that have attempted to look at this product's relevance to the world at large instead of just for yourself is appalling.

    I remember all the demise of Apple articles that came out when the G4 Cube launched. Didn't ring true then. One bad product launch doesn't ruin a company that size.

    I don't think it is the start of a decline, I think it is the start of the stock leveling out at a more reasonable level.

    The iPad was never going maintain it's dominance of the tablet market, and Apple's competitors in the smartphone market where never going to stand still.

    Apple are still making huge profits, and selling lots of devices. I think they can also continue to grow in the PC market. I can't see the stock rapidly declining.

    Also, I think it should be a rule that anybody claiming to know what Steve Jobs would have done has to post a link to a photo of themselves with Steve Jobs to prove that they actually knew him.

    "Steve’s Apple never deigned to do something as crass as competing”

    I think you should have a look at a few keynotes from the earlier 2000's with Steve talking about the introduction of new iPods. The only reason Apple released the iPod mini and shuffle was to compete in the segments that the original iPod couldn't cater for.

    In the same vein as this article, you could compare an 11" Macbook Air to a 15" Retina Macbook Pro as they are both laptops. However, they are meant for completely different markets.

    The same applies to the iPad mini. It is designed to be the best product it can be for its segment and compete with other manufacturers, not its bigger sibling.

    iPad mini is definitely a stumble. By releasing this device they have validated the Nexus7, kindle and 7 inch devices. Instead of being an 'also ran' these smaller devices are now legitimate contenders

      Yet I bet the iPad mini will be the highest selling device in that class very, very soon.

        I doubt it very much - not at least in this curent itteration - if ever.
        Maybe, just maybe once it gets retina - but by then the opposion will have better(as current)

          I don't doubt it.

          Since it competes against 'Android', not 'the' nexus 7, not 'the' kindle fire, etc.. This is the war of ecosystems at the end of the day.

          Android (or a fork) reaches more people, but the current-iteration Apple devices have been consistently selling more units.

          'Better' is subjective. Apple will end up winning the segment. What makes you doubt it? They made a cheaper iPad. They're not competing, they're saying 'this is the best tablet in this segment'. They're even marketing the device as being 'better than seven inches'.

          Even if you believe other seven–inch devices to be of better value than the iPad mini, most consumers will disagree and vote with their wallets.

    They call every screen a retina display, even if it doesn't come close to 330ppi lol. Just another thing bringing Apple down.

    iPad mini is a joke with it's 162 ppi, surely that is the lowest density any smartphone or tablet has ever shipped with.

      They've never called the iPad mini's display 'retina', if that's what you're insinuating.

      Umm geez Franz - did you do any research at all? 162 is denser than almost any tablet on the market right now. the you-beaut new Surface tablet? 148ppi. Samsung Galaxy 10.1? 142ppi. Want me to keep going?

    Whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnne and whiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinge

    I stopped reading when the author thought it necessary to describe the colour and size of his ipad. What a douche.

    I went into a store yesterday and tried one. I used it for about 30 seconds and literally thought the same thing 'I have an iPad that does all this stuff and looks better' No sale for me for sure.

    its cute that the author thinks that the decline has only started now. apples product line has been in decline for ages, its just that steve was there and could spin his bullshit and convince the world that everything was magical and full of innovation

    all that's happened is the reality distortion field has lost its charge.

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