Apple this week unveiled its highly anticipated iPad mini, a 7.9in tablet available now to pre-order, ahead of its November 2 launch date.
Macworld UK caught up with accessory makers to find out whether the new device is what they were expecting to see from Apple’s event on Wednesday, what they think of the new tiny tablet, and what iPad mini accessories they’ve got in the pipeline.
Vice President of Marketing at Wacom Europe GmbH Rüdiger Spohrer told us: “The iPad mini is a smart move again from Apple and a logical next step in the category, following the increasing demand for mobile devices. The launch, perfectly timed prior to the holiday season, will probably further fuel purchases and increase the number of media tablet users.”
Mark Rogers, Cygnett’s general manager for UK and Western Europe agrees. “It’s bound to be a success,” he said. “The new price point will open the iPad up to a whole new market, and potentially a whole new range of uses.”
“One such application may be for children,” Rogers continued. “They take to the touch screen interface in quite a natural way, and this smaller, lighter form factor is ideal for them at home or school.”
Also impressed by the iPad mini, Callum Bush, founder of MediaDevil, said: “Being ultra portable, the iPad mini is likely to encourage a drive in sales from those who perhaps avoided the iPad for its size. Being smaller, it’s even more practical and we have two staff looking forward to purchasing their first iPads, with the clinching factor being that it finally fits in their handbags.”
“The iPad mini looks like another great piece of hardware from Apple, we cannot wait to get our hands on it,” said Joel Meadows, Marketing Director at OverBoard. “We’ve been waiting for Apple to announce this mini iPad for a couple of years now, as we think that it will help expand the tablet market even further, while also helping to bridge the gap between the iPhone and the iPad perfectly. We’re also very pleased to hear that full versions of all apps are compatible with the mini.”
Overall, accessory makers predicted the iPad mini pretty well, but there were still some unexpected elements.
“Thanks to many leaks in the press, there weren’t many surprises. However, the pricing was higher than expected. For many consumers, $369 is still not an impulse buy,” said Bush from MediaDevil.
It was hard to guess what price tag Apple would be putting on the iPad mini, but the now announced $369 starting price is higher than competing 7in tablets such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7. Apple’s Phil Schiller has defended the pricing decision, though, saying that Apple customers will choose the iPad mini for the quality without being put off by the higher price.
“There were no real surprises in what the iPad mini offers, although we were not expecting the final chassis to be quite as slim as it is,” Overboard’s Joel Meadows said. “Apple has really excelled itself in the design quality and ergonomics of the iPad mini, with the smaller border, the device should fit and feel comfortable in one hand.”
“We obviously expected something ‘mini’ to be announced,” said Head of product at Proporta Lynette Prigmore. “But we were genuinely surprised to hear about the iPad 4.”
“We expect the new iPad Mini, with its accessible price point, to be one of the most sought after gifts for Christmas 2012 and into the new year,” Prigmore continued. “And, being the busiest period in the retail calendar, we anticipate a high attachment rate on accessories.”
“As with any new Apple model, it’s a race against time for accessory manufacturers such as ourselves; and the timing of the iPad Mini will definitely see us wanting to have cases and screen protectors in stores as soon as possible,” Prigmore concluded.
“We have six new ranges of iPad mini cases, while the current iPad third generation will fit the new iPad fourth generation as the core form factor hasn’t changed,” said Cygnett. “Our new ranges of iPad mini cases, and two screen protectors, will be in shops by November 2, the same day as the new Apple tablet itself.”
“The fourth generation iPad has exactly the same screen resolution and body dimensions as previous versions, therefore no amends are required to our current product range,” said MediaDevil. “The Grafikcase will of course be adapted to the dimensions of the iPad mini from November.”
MediaDevil will also be launching a new version of its Magicwand touch screen stylus and a range of luxury leather cases.
“The release of the iPad mini will help us to increase sales next year, as OverBoard already offers a waterproof case that will perfectly fit and protect the iPad mini,” said OverBoard. “With the iPad mini being even more portable than its bigger brother, we will look into providing accessories that can be bundled with the waterproof case, to allow full use of the device no matter where the user would like to take the device.