Apple CEO Tim Cook finally showed the world the iPad Mini on Tuesday, capping off months of hearsay and speculative blog posts. Critics who briefly got to try it out generally came away with positive first impressions. "From a hardware standpoint, the iPad Mini is the nicest of the smaller tablets out there," says Joanna Stern at ABC News. At 7.9 inches, it's as thin as a pencil and lighter than a pad of paper, perfectly replicating the user experience of its full-sized sibling. One number, however, raised a few critics' eyebrows: The device's $329 starting price tag, which is a full $130 higher than the direct competition. Apple marketing head Phil Schiller defended the decision, claiming that consumers are willing to pay for quality not found in Amazon's Kindle Fire HD or Google's Nexus 7. Does he have a point? Or will erstwhile Apple consumers see the price differential and go with a $200 tablet instead?
The Mini is way too expensive: The iPad Mini is "certifiably overpriced," says Brian Barret at Gizmodo. When you look at it next to the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7, "you get the impression it's a pretty level playing field," at least specification-wise. Essentially you're paying a 65 percent premium "for a device that's not decidedly better in any way other than size and apps." The real genius of the first iPad was that it wasn't just first, it was the cheapest, too. "Charging so much more for a product that's not clearly so much better is a major step backwards for Apple, especially given its unfamiliar position in the small tablet space."
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
But Apple always does this: We shouldn't be surprised, says Roger Cheng at CNET. Apple's biggest edge is its unmatched app ecosystem — its App Store boasts 700,000 iOS apps and 275,000 iPad-specific apps, "giving it far more versatility than the competition." A $329 starting price tag to access this is "a clear indication that the company is still in the game to make a profit," unlike Amazon, which sells the Kindle Fire at a loss. In any case, Apple always prices its products at a "premium to the competition" to maintain its image as a maker of products that "people aspire to buy."
It's pricey, but I'll probably still buy it: Despite the high price tag, says Henry Blodget at Business Insider, the iPad Mini will still be mine. Why? Because after five years of selling my family stuff, "Apple has become the personal electronics platform for the whole household." My kids and I all know how to use the devices, and "we're not eager to throw away five years of accumulated knowledge and start from scratch." We know which apps to use for movies, books, and games. While switching to Amazon or Android might mean saving money in the short term, moving to a new platform "would be annoying and a pain." Also, I bet that within six to 12 months, Apple will drop the price significantly.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.