Oct 23, 2012

Posted by in Tech | 0 Comments

If iPad Mini Rumor is True, will Apple still be the Same Great Company We Know Of?

We are now less than 36 hours away from Apple’s press event. The event that the world will be watching closely is scheduled to take place on October 23. Tomorrow’s event carries particular significance to Apple and the world. When I say the world, I mean the whole world and not just the tech world.

With millions of i-devices (iPod, iPhone and iPad) now in consumer hands, Apple has changed many lives. From the way teaching materials are distributed to the way classroom teachings are conducted. From land to air navigation. From the way musics are distributed to the way we listen and enjoy music itself. From the way games are played to the way games are built, distributed and sold. From the way applications are developed to the way revenues are generated from the applications themselves.

Steve Jobs Biography

Buy Steve Jobs Biography from Amazon

Steve Jobs, regarded by many as among the greatest visionaries the world ever has, led Apple from near bankruptcy to become the world’s most profitable and admired company. If you read his biography, you would catch a glimpse into the lives of a great innovator. In his book, Walter Isaacson revealed how Steve Jobs ruled Apple with iron fist and tyranny in pursuit of perfection and excellence. With the exception of few glitches (such as the antennagate), almost all Apple products launched during Steve Jobs’ era were close to flawless.

The reason for such fine achievement is best described by words from Steve Jobs himself during his unveiling of iPad 2. In his words, Steve Jobs said “Technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with humanities, that yields the result that makes us sing.” Nothing, not even corporate bottom line, can stand in the way in his quest for perfection. That is the Apple we know of.

The passing of Steve Jobs in 2011 was heralded as the moment of the century. He has left a shoe that appears to be too large for any one to fit in, not even his long planned successor, Tim Cook. All due respect should be paid to Tim Cook. After all, while Steve Jobs may be the iconic figure to Apple, it was Tim Cook who was responsible in building up Apple’s all mighty logistical supply chain. And that is exactly the biggest problem that the world is worried about. No one cast a doubt on Tim Cook’s caliber as operational maestro, but his vision for innovation has simply not been proven and tested.

It is unfair and folly to expect Post-Steve Jobs Apple to be the same as before. Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs and he should always be himself instead of trying to emulate his great predecessor. And this is exactly the dark cloud that has always shrouded Apple after Jobs’ departure. Can Tim Cook manage the boardroom egos? How is he going to lead? Is he going to lead as a tyrant? Will there be innovation continuity at Apple?

One year and after three product launches later, Tim Cook has not managed to convince the hearts of many investors. The three Post-Steve Jobs era launches have so far been disappointing. Starting from iPhone 4S. Are you able to recall what is the difference between 4s and 4? You may be forgiven if you have no answer to the question because the difference is really forgettable. It was nothing but retina display that separates the two. Other than that? Siri. A year later, how many of us have actually fired our personal assistant and turn to Siri instead? Today, Siri is just a feature that no one is really using. Next in line, there is the new iPad. Tim Cook is probably right in trying to move himself away from the great shadow of Steve Jobs. However, many agree that he made a wrong decision with the naming of the new iPad. Worse still, can anyone tell me the difference between iPad 2 and the new iPad? Again, you may be excuse for not being able to come up with an answer because the answer is really insignificant. It is again the Retina display. Other than the ‘breakthrough’ naming, Apple invented another new term in the dictionary: Resolutionary. What is that supposed to mean? You guess. After iPhone 4s, it was fortunate that they did not choose to go ahead and call the new iPhone the new iPhone. Instead, they call their latest generation of iPhone as iPhone 5. However, it is dubbed as one of the worst product launch that can and ever happened at Apple. Severing their contract with Google and going ahead with their (not even) half-baked Map Apps is probably the biggest flop that to me, marks a total departure of their business philosophy. If such an App can be included in their major product launch, what else can we expect from them?

See also: Ditching Apple iPhone 5 for Samsung Galaxy Note: It does not take a Genius

The idea of smaller iPad is nothing new. It has surfaced (and was quashed) even during Steve Jobs’ time. In a transcript dated back to 2010, Jobs was quoted as saying:

… The seven-inch tablets are tweeners, too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad. …

Are things difference in 2012 compared to 2010? Definitely. In 2010, Samsung was no one but a ‘toddler’ or entrant who was trying to get a hang of the mobile phone market. In 2 years time, Samsung has grown up really fast and transformed itself into the giant of the industry. Samsung is now battling on every front. For more than 2 years, iPad has ruled the tablet market and always enjoy the lion share of the market. In 2011, Amazon was the surprise new entrants with their 7inch Kindle Fire. A year later, Amazon re-assert their intention to become a major and not just a fringe player. Amazon is now offering both a 7inch and 8inch option for its Kindle Fire line of devices. The aggressive pricing from Amazon leads many to believe that Amazon is selling their Kindle Fire at a loss. How big a loss exactly remains purely as a guess at best. The avalanche of threat does not stop with Samsung and Amazon. Microsoft has earlier announced that they are making their own tablet called Surface that is expected to be released at about the same time this week. Google is also making a new push with their plan to unveil 7inch Nexus tablet.

All these stacked up the pressure on Apple and if rumors of iPad mini proved to be true, it means that Apple has now turned from the innovative leader to merely a follower or just another competitor. iPad mini would then join the 7inch tablet crowd. Given the recent refreshment to the iPod touch, there is really limited price points that Apple can put to the smaller iPad. Based on Apple’s Singapore online store, the price of iPod touch starts at S$398. It comes with 32GB storage and WiFi. On the other hand, entry level iPad 2 is selling at $528. It comes with 16GB storage and WiFi.

If rumors are to be trusted, the entry level iPad mini would come with 8GB storage and WiFi. The big question is then how much would you be willing to pay for it? It definitely has to be lower than iPad 2, but how low does it have to be? For a $50 saving, would you be willing to get a device that is half in storage size and smaller in screen size? It makes little sense for the iPad mini to be priced on par with iPod touch.

The other possibility is for the smaller iPad to be priced lower than the iPod touch. It would be an amazing feat on the part of Apple if this is indeed the case and they can still come up with decent specification. Can they still maintain the same profit margin as they always enjoy? Earlier today, TechCrunch reported that the iPad mini might be selling only for a 40% profit margin. If this is confirmed, then it will be another significant departure from the Apple that we have always known. The Apple we know does not fight over price for the sake of market share. The Apple we know delights us by making extraordinary products. That is the Apple we know.

Are they really going to take the low road by releasing iPad mini with inferior specification just to gain themselves a share in the 7inch tablet market segment? Have they become a shadow of its past?

That is something we will get to find out real soon. Stay tuned as we will bring you the latest info on iPad Mini Release Date in Singapore.

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