While Apple hasn’t confirmed any of the speculation surrounding the production of an ‘iPad Mini,’ if the rumours do prove true it’ll likely be one of the worst kept secrets in tech. For weeks now the rumour mill has been grinding out regular updates on the progress of Apple’s 7-inch tablet, with the Wall Street Journal reporting earlier this week that Apple’s supply chain is entering the final production stages for the smaller tablet, meaning that we may actually see the release of the new tablet before the end of the month.
But perhaps the late Steve Jobs was on to something when he initially scoffed at the idea of a smaller version of the iPad, as many continue to question the timing and focus of current Apple CEO Tim Cook’s tablet vision. In the Jobs era, Apple had a metronome-like release schedule, designed specifically to allow ample time between releases for hype to be generated. Jobs’ fear was, over-saturate the market with Apple products and the public simply won’t have the energy (or the finances) to make it a hit.
If the iPad Mini hits the market before the end of the month as expected, will it take the shine off the iPhone 5? Or better yet, will the general public still have enough hysteria left to even care?
But timing isn’t the only hurdle Apple is struggling with leading up to the launch of the worst-kept tech secret in Apple’s history, as according to the Business Insider, Apple’s supply line is struggling to produce the smaller tablet, churning out significantly lower yields than expected. These struggles with the specs of Apple’s new iPad Mini have reportedly pushed back the anticipated release date by 4-6 weeks, although the timing of the ‘Mini’ release would have made even less sense if it had happened in September as well.
Despite production concerns, however, according to the Wall Street Journal the final production run is underway and even if the yield of the initial production run is lower than expected, Apple will likely have enough units to hold yet another glitzy release party, once again using the old supply-and-demand trick to fuel the hype going into the Christmas season.
Truthfully, though, I’m interested to see how Cook’s vision for Apple products plays out, given that his predecessor seemed more interested in fuelling the hype surrounding Apple products in regular intervals rather than flooding the market with Apple products simply to capitalize on increased consumer spending during the holiday season.
Having already played the supply-and-demand card with the iPhone 5, with many pre-orders still waiting to get their hands on the coveted smartphone, how will the public feel when Apple rolls out the iPad Mini, only to announce that it too will only be available in severely limited quantities leading up to Christmas? Just how deep does the well of Apple hysteria go, and what will Apple do if it suddenly dries up?
Despite my scepticism, however, I’m sure the reverse will almost certainly be true. Apple will release the iPad Mini, the public will clamour to get one, and the 7-inch tablet will become the new ‘Tickle-Me Elmo’ of the season, with people paying double or triple the market price simply to get one under the Christmas tree.