iPad Mini release is too little, too late

iPad Mini release is too little, too late (credit: Adelaide Cole/Art Editor) iPad Mini release is too little, too late (credit: Adelaide Cole/Art Editor)
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The tech wizards at Apple are at it again. Greeting spectators at the California Theatre in San Jose less than two months after the iPhone 5’s announcement, CEO Tim Cook and other executives unveiled a new family of iPads and Macs.

Among the variety of hardware added to Apple’s top-tier product line, a new breed of iPad — the iPad Mini — stole the spotlight as the event’s biggest news. Although the iPad Mini will probably produce record profits, as expected from any new Apple product, the device was announced too late and with too high a price point to be considered a milestone for the company.

Despite boasting a smaller screen than the iPad, Apple promises that the iPad Mini will offer everything its larger sibling does. Consumers will get all the perks of the iPad Mini’s brother — tons of apps, an e-reader, a web browser, you name it — in a more compact form.

The iPad Mini is a great new offering that not only gives consumers a larger selection of Apple tablets, but also provides developers with a new platform for their software. According to Adam Najberg of The Wall Street Journal, the iPad Mini could spur the development of tablet gaming because of its smaller screen — just the right size for portable gaming.

That being said, the tablet’s 16GB entry-level model sells for $329. Compared to the $199 price tag of Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD, the iPad Mini is an expensive piece of hardware, maybe too expensive for consumers on a budget.

Why spend an extra $130 when there are products on the market that are just as compelling? Unless Apple’s ecosystem of content is important to the consumer, there might not be a reason to justify spending the extra money.

In addition to wondering why the device’s price is so high, another question must be asked: Why did Apple wait so long to launch the iPad Mini?

The original Kindle Fire was announced over a year ago on Sept. 28, while the Nook Color — running Android — was released in late 2010. Other miniature tablets, such as the original Samsung Galaxy Tab, were also released over a year ago.

If the iPad Mini was released around the time of the first portable tablets, it may have been considered a revolutionary competitor. The device is definitely still an enticing option in the tablet market, but it seems more like an afterthought than what could have been a show-stealing product.

Even more disconcerting is Apple’s choice to launch the iPad Mini in October, along with the fourth generation iPad. Why didn’t Apple launch the iPad Mini with the third generation iPad earlier this year or wait until the spring, when iPads have traditionally been launched, to reveal the newest tablets?

The iPad Mini will surely be a hit for the holiday season. Loved ones of all ages will rip open their presents to find the shiny new Apple-branded tablet.

In fact, this holiday season may be one of Apple’s best seasons yet. Still, to many consumers, their third generation iPad or iPad 2 still feels brand new.

For customers who look forward to buying the latest Apple technology, the thought of buying the iPad Mini after purchasing an iPad a few months earlier may seem unreasonable. Even die-hard fans could find Apple’s latest product launch to be more of a nuisance than a reason to pull out their credit cards.