By introducing the iPad mini alongside an update of the original iPad, Apple is hoping to protect existing Apple customers from competitors, bring in new tablet users, and poach from rivals.
The most obvious point of difference between the iPad original and mini is size (9.7 inches vs 7.9 inches). However, Apple is attempting to create differentiation by more than just this. Changes to the iPad original include a faster chip, an improved camera, dual-band Wi-Fi, and support for additional LTE mobile operators worldwide.
In contrast, the iPad mini includes an older A5 processor, does not have the high-resolution retina display that the original features, and has a modest 1024x768 resolution. Interestingly, these make the mini specifications similar to the iPad 2, thus rendering the latter redundant in all but size.
Of most interest to me though is how people will fit the iPad mini into their routines, and how this integration may be different from the iPhone and the iPad original. The smaller size of the mini suggests that people are more likely to use it out of home than they are the iPad original. Research shows that people are more likely to use their smartphones across all spaces - in home and out of home, whereas tablet owners are much more likely to use tablets in-home than out of home. Correspondingly, smartphone use is more evenly distributed throughout the day, as the data below shows.
The smaller size and therefore portability of the iPad mini suggest that some smartphone usage will move to the iPad mini. On the other hand, the mini’s larger screen also suggests a net growth in out of home screen behaviour, for example around video. Given smartphones’ smaller screens, it is not surprising that tablet owners are nearly twice as likely to watch video on their tablets in any given month than smartphone users are on smartphones (Touchpoints 2012).
How will all of this impact sales? My view is that the iPad mini will eat slightly into iPad sales because of the smaller size and lower cost. On the other hand, iPad mini sales will add significantly to overall iPad sales.