iPad Mini vs Kindle? 5" to 7" $350 iPad Mini in Q1, 2011

We might see a new battle, iPad Mini vs Kindle, early next year. Digitimes senior analyst Mingchi Kuo says Apple is working on a 5″ to 7″ iPad, the iPad Mini, that will launch as early as Q1, 2011 –

Apple is reportedly scheduling a smaller 5- to 7-inch version of the iPad that is expected to launch as soon as the first quarter of 2011, according to Digitimes Research senior analyst Mingchi Kuo.

Kuo, citing talks with upstream component sources, said Apple’s smaller-size iPad will be priced below US$400 and will target the highly portable mobile device market and consumers that focus mainly on reading and do not have a high demand for text input.

The next time Steve Jobs says a market doesn’t exist or that Apple is not interested you can pretty much assume it’s code for ‘We have a 5 year plan to try to take it over’.

iPad Mini vs Kindle – What impact would it have?

Well, it seems like it’s an attempt to –

  1. Fill the gap in screen size between the iPhone and the iPad. Of course, we don’t know if it’s a gap that needs to be filled.
  2. Make something that is more portable than the iPad and still has decent screen size.
  3. Take on the 6″ dedicated eReaders.
  4. Take on the 5″ and 6″ tablets like the Dell Streak (it’s 5″).

Most of all, though, it seems to be an attempt to go after reading. If Mr. Mingchi Kuo is right, and he probably is, then Apple is making the iPad Mini more focused on reading and that would certainly indicate it’s going after the eReader market.

Do check out Mingchi Kuo’s estimates on eReader sales for 2010 and beyond.

In terms of the impact of the iPad Mini, there would be positives –

  1. The competition would push eReader companies and hopefully we would finally get color eInk devices. 
  2. The pace of innovation required to compete would go up – it would kill some companies and others would become much more nimble and innovative. 
  3. eReader Prices would come down.
  4. There is a slight chance that Kindle etc. become more open. At the minimum you could read books across one more device.
  5. There is a slight chance ebook prices would come down as companies might decide to go back to competing on ebook prices.

There would also be negatives –

  1. Actual reading will probably go down if the winner is a device you can do a billion things on. 
  2. There will be a lot of false press on benefits of the iPad Mini pretending that its features are ideal for reading even when they’re not (LCD > eInk, multitasking > unitasking) and that might confuse users. 
  3. There would be a proliferation of different formats.

Do think that the positives outweight the negatives.

iPad Mini vs Kindle – Would a sub $400 iPad Mini hurt Kindle Sales?

For all the talk of the iPad killing Kindle sales we have a huge price difference i.e. the iPad starts at $499 and the Kindle is just $259 including a free 3G connection to the Kindle Store and the Internet (very basic browser) and Wikipedia.

With a sub $400 iPad – perhaps one at $350 or even $300 – Apple would certainly have a very competitive offering.

Areas the $259 Kindle would be better

These are just some of the obvious advantages Kindle would have in iPad Mini vs Kindle –  

  1. Price – Kindle would still be cheaper.
  2. Free Internet.
  3. eInk screen is better for reading (to be more accurate – for people who don’t get tired reading on LCD screens).
  4. Readable in sunlight.
  5. It would probably be lighter.
  6. Kindle App Store and hopefully some killer apps.
  7. Better range of books. Better Prices. This is actually negated since the iPad Mini would have Kindle for iPad.

By Q1, 2011 we should definitely see the Kindle 3 so we might see more features like a touchscreen, perhaps a color eInk screen, and perhaps an unbreakable screen.

iPad Mini vs Kindle – Areas the $350 iPad Mini might win

Some of the iPad Mini’s advantages –  

  1. iPad Mini would have a color screen.
  2. You could do more than just read – if you are so inclined.
  3. There would be some killer apps based on all the work being done for the current iPad.
  4. Apple would have had a chance to work on feedback and the iPad Mini would be better than the iPad. 
  5. Users would be using WiFi or getting a 3G plan so there would not be bandwidth restrictions on Apps.
  6. There would be a full-blown browser.
  7. iPhone Apps might look quite alright on a 5″ to 7″ screen and might be quite usable.
  8. Apple is probably going to figure out some devilishly smart way to sell the iPad Mini – though hopefully it isn’t anything like the overplayed ‘I’m a Mac’ series of ads.

Kindle and the iPad Mini might end up being the top 2 reading devices

Not necessarily in that order. 

The iPad is still too heavy and awkward and expensive to compete to be the top eReader. A $350 or $300 iPad Mini would be portable enough and light enough and cheap enough to take on the $259 eReaders. It’ll definitely be a compelling proposition – a device on which you can do everything.

That also highlights the downside – How much would people actually read on it?

However, no one factors that in during the purchase. When the purchase decision is being made users think about value for money and appeal and fit with what they intend to use the device for. The Kindle and dedicated eReaders might be the best fit for reading but they would lose badly on value for money (or perceived value for money) and on sex appeal (we can be sure Apple will figure out a way to paint the iPad Mini as the new future of computing).

Evolution at its best – The Kindle and dedicated eReaders have a year to get color and cut prices and amp up their sex appeal. If not, the iPad Mini vs Kindle battle will be a massacre.

4 thoughts on “iPad Mini vs Kindle? 5" to 7" $350 iPad Mini in Q1, 2011”

  1. Q: “How much would people actually read on it?”

    A: Exactly as much as they want to.

    I don’t follow the logic that it’s somehow *good* that the Kindle fails to give the user more options for the time they spend with it.

    I also don’t see the Kindle App Store (and “hopefully some killer apps”) as an “obvious advantage” for Kindle. And if the Kindle did have gain some great killer apps, why would it be advantageous for Kindle, yet be counted against the iPad? If Kindle had great apps, how much would people actually read on it?

    The Kindle currently features eInk, which some people prefer for plain text reading, and which is superior to LCD in some lighting conditions. But unless it offers much more, soon, it will fade from prominence quickly. It won’t just be competing with the iPad, but with the scores of cheaper knock-off devices sure to come. A next generation Kindle may, in fact, look a great deal like an iPad.

  2. If the kindle, using wifi, would have full access to your mail accounts and main social networks it would kill IPad.

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