iPad mini: I was only mostly right

From July 15: First public prediction: The 7(.85) inch iPad will happen

Over the last 3 months, the coming of the iPad mini became such conventional wisdom that it hardly qualified as a prediction. But there were plenty of doubters back in July.

7.85 got rounded to 7.9, so I got that right.

Pricing: not so much. They took a bite out of the pricing umbrella, but plenty remains.

Some theories on this:

1. They see the iPad as a fundamentally different class of device than the army of 7″ Android tablets. They’re right, of course. Even if you don’t care about Jony Ive build quality, the app ecosystems just don’t compare. But if all you’re going to do is watch media and surf the web…. Wait. More than 90% of tablet web surfing is done on iPads. Okay, I’ll just stick with “different class of device”

2. They can’t make enough. With the iPad 2 at $399, the $329 iPad mini (entry level) price is about as high as they could set it. Apple is a smart very-much-for-profit company and if you can’t make enough you charge a high price to dampen demand and maximize profits.

You can’t gain additional share if you can’t make the actual units.

I read a comment from the Android world that the form factor was the only reason to buy the iPad mini. I think it was meant as a criticism. But that is exactly Apple’s point.

And that’s why I only score myself as “mostly” right. Because the point of the iPad mini wasn’t to lower the price. The point was that for some users/use cases, smaller is better. This also may be good for the platform. A full sized iPad doesn’t carry a big premium, so we won’t find a swath of users with full sized needs cramming themselves into smaller screens because the prices are so different.

I also think of those web surfing statistics and wonder if the iPad has any  real competition. Maybe those really big Samsung phones? And I believe they still make netbooks.



There are worse things than weird

Weirdest macs of all time?

I actually owned a Mac XL. It showed that if you put a hard drive on a mac it just might be the future. Because as I learned early and have never forgotten, speed is an essential ingredient in ease of use.

The “collector” (hoarder) in me wants to own one of all of these except #1. That one is just too ugly.

Missing from this list, imho, is the Macintosh Portable. Quickly forgotten when Apple hit the design home run of the original PowerBooks. Yes Apple did a few great things while Steve Jobs was not there… two decades later the modern laptop still is still a recognizable descendant of the PowerBook, which is quite a run. (Yes, I checked. ThinkPad shipped a year later.)

But weird macs are okay. What was tragic was the endless proliferation of undistinguished beige box models in the 90s. “Macintosh Performa 9208*” There are worse things than weird. In fact, maybe with Apple’s iPhone and iPad home runs, we should hope Apple just might be a little bit weird again?

* probably not a real model number. But who cares–they’re all a bad memory from dark times.

Continuing my foolishness on Maps and Steve

Harry Marks makes good claim chowder dissecting a year old article which boiled down to “If Apple doesn’t become like its competitors, it’s doomed.” I guess there’s a real art to writing it in such a way that lots will read and not ask the obvious: “Are you high? (If so, please tell me on what so I can avoid it.)”

The obvious point is that leaders fail when they stop acting like leaders.

But a lot of people don’t get Apple, have never gotten Apple, and just ascribe its success to “marketing.”  It’s not too hard a sell–tech people think marketing is evil voodoo; marketing people like being ascribed that kind of power.

Back to Maps and Steve.

Harry (who clearly does get Apple) listed plenty of Steve Jobs-released products that were not exactly successful. But as I read that Consumer Reports likes iOS 6 maps and Philip Elmer-DeWitt goes gaga over 3D I think we’re looking at the wrong set of Steve Jobs released products.

How about this one: Mac OS X.

In its first iterations, OS X wasn’t completely ready for prime-time either. Critics had long called for Apple to make distinctive hardware and maybe add a UI skin to a serious OS, like Windows NT. (Just like today they call for Apple to remain chained to Google.) But Steve Jobs dragged us, kicking and screaming, into the future.

Every subsequent Apple success has had OS X at the root of its technology stack. (Including the iPod which entered life as a Mac peripheral.)

And yes, if you’re Apple and mobile is most of your business, mapping is pretty damned important as well.

There’s another parallel too. An OS can only go so far in a lab… it can only reach maturity with wide usage by developers and users.

Now a more reasonable leader might have released iOS 6 Maps as just an option, letting early adopters use it while others could fall back on the previous product.

That same leader would certainly have included a floppy drive on the iMac.