When Apple finally announced the iPad mini two weeks ago, the only question most people in the tech industry had was where they would set the price. The device had been rumored for years, and was expected long ago. We received our answer, and many thought it was far too high. At $329 it is $130 more than the Amazon Kindle Fire HD, and more than $70 more than Google's Nexus 7.
What the analysts failed to anticipate was the impact that Apple has on the public. Just as they did with MP3 players when the iPod was released, Apple has not just released another device in a crowded market, they have released THE iconic device in a market that many didn't know really existed.
Many people in my family would never have heard of the Kindle Fire without my telling them (and showing them mine). I'm sure many of you could say the same. However when Apple announces a product people hear about it, and more importantly for Apple, they run down to buy it. They stay up past midnight for preorders to make sure they have it before the people they work with. Apple announced that they sold more than 3 million new iPads over the first weekend, more than twice what the analysts expected. Here's how they did it.
Apple knows tablets. With more than 80% of the market in the US they know tablets better than anyone. Apple didn't need to change anything but size. They didn't need to design a new interface or operating system the way the other companies I've mentioned needed to. They didn't need to wait for developer support, because they used the same specifications developers were already writing for from the iPad 2. If you have used an iPad or iPhone before, you already know how to use an iPad mini. Since there are more than 200 million iOS devices already sold, that is a huge group of potential users to draw from, and a group with more brand loyalty than any other in the consumer electronics market.
As Phil Schiller said during the announcement, this is "every inch an iPad". From the familiar grid of icons to the 4:3 aspect ratio in a world of widescreen tablets, the iPad stands out, and in the minds of many above the rest of the market.
It has replaced both my Kindle Paperwhite and my iPad 3 in my daily life, and I expect I'm not alone.