Apple’s iPad Mini: What It Means for Android

Apple took to the stage yesterday to make a variety of announcements prior to the holiday-buying season, including the anticipated launch of their Nexus 7/Kindle Fire rival, the iPad Mini. Ever since 2010, Apple has led the tablet movement with iOS strongly posed as the dominant tablet platform. It seems that the Cupertino company is set on keeping their position by crushing any competition and covering all the markets.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the announcements Apple made at it’s special event and discuss whether they might have an impact on Android and its third-party offerings.

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Fourth Generation iPad

Some were left disappointed after Apple’s introduction of the iPhone 5, with the launch having very few surprises. It did look like yesterday’s event would be the same situation amidst a plethora of iPad mini rumours, but Apple delivered. To the shock of pretty much everyone in attendance, Apple announced their fourth generation iPad. It’s a much more minimal update to the product, but does add a new A6X processor, wider LTE support (including EE in the UK) and the iPhone 5’s Lightning dock connector.

The fourth-generation iPad is a minimal update to the third-generation model released earlier this year.

The larger iPad — now dubbed “iPad with Retina Display” — was a really stellar product in its third generation and had no notable competition due to a lack of Android tablets at the 10″ size. The fourth iteration won’t really impact Android too much, because there’s enough of a distinction between seven and ten inch-ers for the new iPad not to affect the smaller Android tablets.

iPad Mini

The iPad mini was the most anticipated announcement of the event and most of what was rumoured came to fruition. It is a 7.9-inch tablet with a 1024 x 768 resolution screen. It runs on Apple’s A5 processor, features a front-facing FaceTime HD camera and a rear shooter capable of 5mp stills and 1080p HD video and uses Apple’s new Lightning dock connector. It’s available in both white and black, with or without cellular connectivity and in either 16GB, 32GB and 64GB sizes.

iPad’s little brother.

Even after its announcement, the iPad mini continues to intrigue me. Apple were pretty much against seven-inch tablets but can be forgiven considering the popularity of Android offerings at this size. However, the starting price of $329 fails to compete with the $199 Nexus 7, which might result in buyers likely opting for the Nexus 7 based on price alone. And even though the iPad mini starts with 16GB of storage — compared to the Nexus 7’s 8GB — and gives customers the choice of optional 4G and color, it doesn’t stand out as being the better choice for people looking for a small affordable tablet.

The iPad mini is set to compete with the Nexus 7, the Kindle Fire and the iPad with Retina Display.

The iPad Mini will no doubt be an insanely popular product and take some sales away from Android tablets, if only in brick-and-mortar retail where Apple has more presence than first-party Google hardware. However, I feel like the first generation iPad mini is more of a warning shot. Apple always comes back stronger with their second generation — see the iPhone 3G or iPad 2 as examples — and next year’s release will probably see cheaper prices and better specs for a fiercer competition with the lower-priced Android tablets.

While the iPad Mini might not be such a problem for the Android ecosystem of small tablets right now, it’s going to be interesting to see how Google and Amazon respond to this new threat and how Apple reiterates with the next generation.

Are you picking up an iPad mini over a Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire? Is the higher entry price an issue? Share your thoughts in our comments.