Apple's realization that iPad mini was the wrong bet

Discussion in 'iPad' started by JPack, Mar 9, 2018.

  1. JPack macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2017

    To summarize the piece:

    The author makes the argument that Apple reluctantly launched 4.7" and 5.5" devices in 2014 after it was clear large smartphones were the future. The iPhone 6 series remains the best selling iPhone in Apple's history. Initially, the sales performance of iPad was extremely impressive. As a result, Apple executives believed tablets were the next big thing. In an effort to win the tablet segment and to follow their vision of tablet computing, Apple launched the iPad mini to defend against Android in the sub-$500 bracket. Eventually, it became clear consumers preferred large smartphones and tablet sales fell dramatically (especially iPad mini) once Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus became available on the market.

    The author of Above Avalon has traditionally provided good, evidence based arguments. With the trend towards large smartphones and tablets, it's clear the iPad mini is EOL. This article provides a good hypothesis on why iPad mini was alive from 2012 - 2015.
  2. 007p macrumors 6502a

    Mar 7, 2012
    Does the demise of the iPad mini not also mean the demise of the iphone SE?

    The same arguments apply to both.
  3. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

    Sep 26, 2017
    Was it the wrong bet, or did the product just run its course as people finally accepted monster-sized phones instead? Phablets took some time to gain traction over smaller form factors, so iPad mini capitalized on that in the meantime. One could still argue that the mini is a great option for those looking for something comparable to a Kindle, but not just a Kindle.

    I also think they need to keep the 4" iPhone alive. When Apple announced the SE, it sold like hotcakes too. I would seriously consider a next-gen SE if Apple managed to get up to a 4.7" screen in it.
  4. JPack thread starter macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2017
    The SE as a smartphone is arguably more practical than a tablet. The iPad mini fits in an artificial wedge between the smartphone and the notebook/desktop. If a consumer had to pick one to carry, it would probably be the SE instead of iPad mini. This is why phablets are so popular.
  5. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    I have no desire for the current iPad lineup, but I would jump on a new iPad Mini with updated internals and screen
    I have a X but I have no desire to carry a monster phone around in my pocket, hence I ditched the iPhone 7 Plus for the X
    Almost moved to the SE instead, but the X seems to be a reasonable size and fits my pocket much better than the 7 Plus

    My original iPad Mini served me well, but I would like a fully updated version instead of a gigantic phone
  6. ericwn macrumors 68020

    Apr 24, 2016
    I believe the audience for big phones and small tablets are often different. The iPad mini as a product replicated the success the company previously had with similar products, like the iPod mini, and nano later on. The smaller versions of certain things often had great reception with buyers.
  7. Darmok N Jalad macrumors 68000

    Darmok N Jalad

    Sep 26, 2017
    Yes, and I'd hardly see it as something that was a mistake or failure. Perhaps the device has run its course, but it has been around for several years. With the overall longevity of iPads in general, they just don't have the turn over that smartphones do.
  8. joeblow7777 macrumors 603

    Sep 7, 2010
    Even if the Mini is finished that doesn't mean that it was a bad bet. iPads, and tablets in general, were really struggling for a while and the Mini models retained relatively high popularity. I recall seeing stats that suggested that in the holiday season following its launch the Mini 4, it combined with the Mini 2 accounted for more iPad sales than any other sized iPad, and this was the same year that the first Pro came out, and the Air and Air 2 were still in the line up.

    I understand the prediction that the Mini's time is over. I don't understand re-writing history to claim that it was never a success.
  9. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Oct 9, 2005
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    I loved my iPad Mini and the iPad Mini 2 which followed it.....but when the iPhone 6 Plus came along, I soon found that it was more convenient to just have the iPhone with me -- could use smaller purses and bags, too -- and that I didn't need to also carry the iPad Mini any more. The larger iPhone worked just fine for the occasional times I needed to check something online, read emails, etc., while out-and-about. I also had begun to find that in general while at home I really preferred reading things on the larger iPad 9.7 screen, anyway. So when the iPad Mini 3 came along, I didn't buy one, and ditto for the iPad Mini 4. A friend, on the other hand, dearly loves her iPad Mini 4 and is fervently hoping that Apple will not discontinue the iPad Mini line. Different people have different needs and different preferences......
  10. JPack thread starter macrumors 68040


    Mar 27, 2017
    The idea is that Apple lost valuable ground during 2012-2013. While Apple was selling iPhone 5, 5s, and 5c, Samsung was out selling Galaxy Note II and 3 for $700.

    Apple bet on a tablet strategy which included the iPad mini for $329 (Wi-Fi) and $459 (Cellular). The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were not only popular, they had nearly the same manufacturing cost as iPad mini but retailed for much more - $649 and $749.

    iPad mini was a success in the skirmish of tablets. But the real fight where it mattered was phablets. In other words, who cares if the iPhone 6 Plus cannibalized the iPad mini. That's where the money was at.
  11. X Cruz 187 macrumors member

    Mar 12, 2011
    I just bought my family the mini 4 @ Christmas, we love this thing! All three of us fight over it, and not only is it a preferred size for a kid on the go, it also doubles as a perfect smart home remote, I can control Google home, Alexa, xfinity, Ring, but also my Philips Hue with this bad boy! We have 3 other iPads 9.7 no one wants to use them now. Wish I would have got this sooner, Black Friday sale $274, 128GB bestbuy
  12. Richdmoore macrumors 68000


    Jul 24, 2007
    Troutdale, OR
    There is a lot of love in the light general aviation community for the iPad mini, it’s a good size for a light single/twin piston aircraft’s efb.

    I believe the iPad mini should be positioned as an iPod Touch replacement, make it a good gateway ipad for children/tv remote use/restaurant menus, etc. where lower cost & size is needed for specific uses. It’s a good way to get people into the ios ecosystem, android tablets haven’t taken off at all, and most ios/android growth is predicted to be from switchers from now on.

    Who knows what apple’s plans are, both the Mac mini & iPad mini badly need either updates, or to be discontinued to put the waiting game to an end.
  13. Ffosse macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2012
    I believe people are struggling to find use cases for tablets in general, are keeping them much longer, and a tiny one like the iPad Mini no longer makes any sense.
  14. eVolcre macrumors 68000


    Jan 7, 2003
    It’s actually the perfect browsing, couch surfing, kindle replacing device. A great add on to the laptop replacement pros. Wish I hadn’t given mine away.

    It’s a way better user experience than even the plus sized phones.

    I’ll take a spec update mini in the current form factor. But a X’ed out iPad mini with pencil support? It may even replace my moleskines.

    Definitely a market and user case for this size.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 10, 2018 ---
    And btw small doesn’t mean cheap. They could have a pro level mini and price it above the 9.7 iPad. Different strokes different folk. It’ll sell.
  15. colodane macrumors 6502a


    Nov 11, 2012
    Apple certainly understands their market better than I do, but I'm amazed that the business and educational markets alone aren't enough to support continued production of a mini product. Obviously, I'm wrong. But for schools, medical offices, marketing reps, etc. it would seem to me that the mini is the sweet-spot.
  16. mollyc macrumors 68000

    Aug 18, 2016
    My kids each have minis, as do I. I also use a 6s+ phone and find I use them for completely different purposes. I love the size and can't imagine trying to use a full size iPad for very long. My husband has a regular sized iPad, but I would find it really unwieldy, I think. Our minis are all a 2 and showing their age, but it's $200 for a battery replacment. I have no idea what we will do when they finally become unusable. I love the size.
  17. davidinva macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2009
    Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, USA
    I had a Mini 4. Traded it for the Pro 10.5. Would love a Mini Pro, with the iPhone 7+ or 8+ camera, so I could use the Pencil which I have become attached to for photo editing. Much easier to carry. I also have the 8+, but would still use a Mini Pro a lot.
  18. Andy-UK macrumors member

    Sep 6, 2013
    I'm currently reading this thread on my iPad Mini 2 which I love. The normal iPad is too big and I don't want a big phone so this is perfect for me, or at least it was until I sent it in to Apple for a new battery and it came back with the virtually unusable iOS 11 on it instead of iOS 10. It would be nice to think that now Apple have launched an OS which almost bricks the iPad Mini 2 they will at least refresh the internals.
  19. jonblatho macrumors 6502a


    Jan 20, 2014
    What’s cannibalizing the iPhone SE, though? The Apple Watch?
  20. PKoz macrumors regular


    Dec 2, 2017
    I’m at a point where I’d like to upgrade from my 10.5” to a 12.9” iPad Pro and an iPad Mini. I like the idea of using the Pro as an almost replacement for my laptop and using the mini on the side for reference book reading, watching movies, etc. Something on the side.

    I have stopped carrying my MacBook Pro home from the office. I used to carry both the Mac and the 10.5” together. I quickly realized that when I am home I pretty much only use the iPad Pro. I don’t want to read a book on the 12.9”. The 10.5” is really good for that. I think the mini does have a place. And the more and more we start to shift to using the mobile OS as a primary OS the more you might find yourself wanting a smaller secondary device. It’s difficult to find the right mix I think. I bought the 10.5” instead of the 12.9” because I just wasn’t sure which way to go. I never thought I’d use the 10.5” as much as do as a replacement for the laptop. Once that happened I felt like the larger iPad would have been a better choice.

    I would like to see more powerful apps. Between Files and Documents I feel like we’re pretty close. And being able to download to Dropbox helps. Now I feel like I want one app that does what I use Dropbox, Files and Documents for all rolled into one and I’d like that to be Files. Files needs to have more feature parity with Documents and Dropbox. And being able to save anything like zip files, images, or any file in a link from the web via Files needs to become a reality.

    The Multitasking is surprisingly good. That took me a while to get used to but I’m pretty much there. I feel like we’re so close with this now. Closer than ever.
  21. Falhófnir macrumors 68040


    Aug 19, 2017
    The SE serves double duty as the cheapest iPhone for those who want one, but want to spend as little as possible. Maybe if they cut the 6s to the price of the SE it could replace it, but then you upset the 4" market, and I don't know how viable selling the 6s four years in a row (vs a refreshed A10 or even A11 powered SE) would be. A9 chips would then be 2/3 through even an extended 6 year support cycle.
  22. 007p, Mar 10, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018

    007p macrumors 6502a

    Mar 7, 2012
    Haha, I was more thinking along the lines that everyone is supposedly buying large phones. If that’s true, then the SE, at least in its 4” form has the same issue as the mini. It also hasn’t been updated in two years now, along with the iPod. But people seem to want to home in on how the mini is dead, maybe because it has the word mini in it?

    The cheap argument doesn’t really work, the mini is still the cheapest iPad, you just have to compare storage tiers properly. The only reason Apple removed the other mini storage tiers is to make people think it wasn’t the cheapest. Apple could very easily release an A9 version at a cheaper price than the 9.7” iPad if they wanted.

    I think it’s more that Apple wants to force people into using bigger iPads than people aren’t buying minis anymore. I don’t really know why the iphone and iPad Pro can come in two different sizes, but suggesting Apple do that for the ‘cheap ipad’ and people go nuts, I have no idea what’s wrong with having choice these days o_O
  23. stevemiller macrumors 68000

    Oct 27, 2008
    I can't speak for the market, but for me I can see use cases for tablets and phones both large and small. You either want compact usage and portability, or extra screen space for productivity/consumption. They're both valid.

    It'd be like me saying that since I do heavy work on my 15" quad core laptop and would be more constrained by the dual core 13" alternative, they should just kill off the 13" because its "worse". Meanwhile a lot of people don't need that extra size/power and do value the portability.

    It feels weird to me that the mentality that bigger is objectively better does seem to have become the standard in mobile devices, when lightweight mobility was their original purpose. We even went through a period early on when absurdly small cellphones were the coveted choice. Heck does no one remember the point where we had a 3.5" iPhone and people were mostly asking for a mini option?

    I always wonder how much it is the industry nudging the public towards whatever can be positioned as the most expensive option. For a period they could sell the miniaturization of components as the premium. And once they hit a practical limit with that they just went the other way of saying "what you really want is bigger!"

    Just my 2 cents.
  24. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    I'd just say "bet" was the wrong word to choose, and it distracts us from the core issues. "Bet" implies that if you're wrong, you lose all. Since at its peak the Mini was selling tens of millions of units, that's hardly a losing bet. Not only did Apple sell a lot of them, but they did stave-off the wholesale loss of lower-priced tablet sales to Android. That's called an effective strategy in my book.

    The Mini was very effective as a strategy within the tablet segment. It was less effective in the broader category of smartphone vs. tablet, and has yet another role in the competition of iOS/Android vs. Mac/Windows. It's a matter of how you define "battle" and "war."

    The author also danced around a particular elephant named Jobs. It's pretty apparent that part of Apple's reluctance to go phablet is due to Steve's strongly-held opinions on the subject (the "dead hand on the tiller"). Even today few pundits are willing to say, "Steve was wrong," the ensuing bleep-storm from devout Jobsians would completely sidetrack rational discussion.

    In the battle of Smartphone vs. Tablet, we are left with tablets' #1 weakness - they're not telephones. That key smartphone capability trumps a tablet's larger screen size for many users.

    I still see the phablet as a compromise - too small to have the large-screen benefits of a tablet, larger than many people want to carry in their pockets (purses is another matter). But the compromise is sufficient to drastically reduce the number of people who would carry both a tablet and smartphone wherever they go. A larger phone is still more useful than a smaller tablet. If you'd rather just carry one device, it's pretty obvious which one it'll be.

    However, after years of decline, Apple's tablet sales have been stabilizing and rising. They clearly have found a very healthy place among Apple's product segments, and they're continuing to chip away at the need for a laptop PC (among portable users), and home PCs (among those who want a simpler way to browse, read email, and watch videos). And elementary and middle schools (especially) have come to prefer tablets to PCs ("Everything I learned, I learned in kindergarten"). All this bodes well for the tablets long term future.

    Another factor (though I don't know how major a factor it was) is that, at the time, parents were less likely to want their kids to have a full-fledged cell phone. Effectively, the Mini had a solid niche as a large-size iPod Touch as a kids only device. As parents have become more willing to equip the little ones with a full-fledged cell phone, the markets for both iPod Touch and iPad Mini have declined.
  25. dogslobber macrumors 68040


    Oct 19, 2014
    Apple Campus, Cupertino CA
    It strikes me that Apple should really be releasing a 6.5" iPad Mini successor (iPad Nano) but with cellular tech so it can make phone calls. This would be a killer device and would make billions for Apple. Whereas a 6.5" iPhone is just the scatter gun approach suggesting Cook and co have no clue. It'll flop.

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