Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.
Barely two months after launching the iPhone5 – a great product, by the way – Apple launched a new and smaller version of its iPad today. The “iPad Mini,” is being let loose upon the market to fill a market gap and squash growing competition from, among others, Amazon, Google, Samsung, and Blackberry. I have rarely been disappointed with an Apple product and have no doubt that the new iPad – not smaller but “concentrated” – will be a great piece of technology and a worthy addition to the 7-inch tablet fruit basket, even though its much more expensive than its competitors. However, what I don’t know is whether the 7-inch tablet market is something that will last or a passing fad i.e. at what point does a tablet become a big cell-phone?
I have a smartphone and I love my phone but I certainly don’t use it as a phone. Sure, calls are made on an intermittent basis but I primarily use my phone for surfing the web, checking Facebook, paying for coffee etc. The only time I use it as a phone is when I need to setup an appointment with a business – if that business does not have an online appointment calendar. According to most studies, a large, and growing, group of consumers now use their smartphones for similar purposes and that is why service providers are changing their offerings to be more data-centric rather than voice-centric. This was bound to happen because, as everyone knows, the worst part about making a phonecall is talking to a person – unless you are on hold for something, in which case, talking to the person is acceptable as long as that person is not reading you an answer from a booklet.
Since, most of us now use our phones as essentially computers and the displays of those phones are becoming crisper and bigger by the way – hell, the iPhone5 has a 4 inch display – the question is whether the world needs a 7-inch tablet. There is no doubt, though, that this is a growing market as “in the UK alone 7in tablet sales rocketed from about 10,000 in the second quarter to the end of June, to more than 220,00 in the three months to the end of September” according to the Guardian newspaper. What I am curious about is why people are buying these tablets: The 7-inch tablets (7.9-inch for the iPad Mini) are too small to watch shows and movies (especially when there is a 9.7 inch piece already available on the market) and too big to carry around unless a person has a purse or a European man-purse (in this case, I’d also invest in a pair of good running shoes). So, the only thing that makes sense is price i.e. people want a tablet but the regular sized ones are too expensive. However, consider what consumers get for this cheaper price – a smaller product that is used primarily for reading stuff and watching other stuff. Combining this small size with the bigger cellphone displays and the downward slope of tablet prices, makes the 7-inch tablet market a dinosaur before it even starts going.