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$200 Apple iPad mini in 2012 to combat Amazon Kindle Fire?

This far from the first time we’ve heard rumors of an Apple iPad mini. Some say it’s going to be smaller. Others say it’s going to be cheaper. Whatever the case, the rumor has been flying around for as long as the iPad has existed. But now the rumors might be carrying a little more weight, thanks to the introduction of the $199 Amazon Kindle Fire. Is Cupertino feeling threatened?

Well, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White has been making his way through the factories in China and Taiwan. During his journeys with the component makers, he’s heard more than a few rumblings about the possibility of an iPad mini. He’s quick to point out, though, that the supposed iPad mini may not necessarily be mini in size. Rather, it’s more likely that it’ll be mini in spec and mini (or at least mini-er) in price relative to the main iPad product.

He goes on to say that he expects the iPad mini (which may get a different name at time of launch) to ship in the “first few months of 2012.” He says that this “lower priced iPad could be priced in the mid-to-high $200 range,” which pits it directly against the likes of the Kindle Fire. The iPad mini can then sell alongside the higher-spec’d iPad 3, which is expected to be announced in Q2 2012.

Somehow, I find the prospect of an iPad mini less and less plausible as the days go by. Apple has been selling itself as a premium product — the cheapest MacBook is still more expensive than many entry-level Windows laptops — and I don’t expect their approach to tablets to change any time soon, even with the recent departure of Steve Jobs. Then again, selling the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS alongside the iPhone 4S could be indicative of an approach toward the more affordable end of the market.

About Michael Kwan

A freelance writer and tech geek from Vancouver. Find me at michaelkwan.com and follow me on Twitter @michaelkwan.

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  • Anonymous

    Consider points below before buying Kindle Fire:
    – Amazon confirmed that you cannot download anything to Kindle Fire when traveling outside US.
    – Kindle Fire (or any other Kindle) doesn’t have microSD (or any other) card slot thus it is stuck with 6 GB USABLE internal storage unlike other tablets/ereaders that can get up to 32 GB card in to increase content capacity. Kindles are made to be almost like a “dumb terminal” of the past to make sure you’re tied up to Amazon’s storage on the web (for which you need Wi-Fi connection to get to) and you can only store content you get from Amazon there, not other files. Quoting Amazon on Kindle Fire: “Free cloud storage for all Amazon content”. Get it, Amazon content?
    – The stats of how long the battery can last (Kindle Fire theory is 7.5 hours) are taken with Wi-Fi off. It will last about 3 hours if you use it to access content from their Cloud storage over Wi-Fi.
    – Amazon can spy on your web activity through their new cloud-integrated web browser of Kindle Fire.
    – VERY IMPORTANT – lack of microSD slot means that if you decide to”root” your Kindle Fire (or any other Kindle) you’ll have to “root” the actual device thus there will be no coming back. On other devices you can make it boot from a “rooted” microSD card and if you want to get back to the original Operating System you can just take out the card and reboot, and you can go back and forth between different images of various OS’s.
    – Kindle Fire doesn’t have a camera.
    – Kindle Fire has about 70% less usable screen area than iPad 2.
    – Kindle doesn’t support eBooks in ePub format that is the most used format in the world.
    – Kindle app store contains only Amazon approved apps and it does not include (and will not include) Netflix app that other tablets/ereaders have thus again you’re stuck with Amazon content only.
    – Amazon says it will review every app in its Appstore for Fire compatibility, as part of an automated process. Rejected apps will include those that rely on a gyroscope, camera, WAN module, Bluetooth, microphone, GPS, or micro SD. Apps are also forbidden from using Google’s Mobile Services (and in-app billing), which, if included, will have to be “gracefully” removed. In terms of actual content, Amazon has outlawed all apps that change the tablet’s UI in any way (including theme- or wallpaper-based tools), as well as any that demand root access (it remains to be seen how the company will treat the root-dependent apps already in its store) – this is what “rooting” can help with.