Apple unveiled the new iPad Mini at an event in California yesterday.
The company has long been expected to introduce a smaller, slimmer version of its hugely successful tablet. At 7.9 inches (20.1cm), the iPad Mini shaves almost two inches off its predecessor, as well as being 23 per cent thinner and 53 per cent lighter. However, it boasts the same dual core A5 processor, front- and back- facing cameras, and 10-hour battery life as the iPad 2. The Apple website explains:
"iPad mini has everything that makes an iPad an iPad, but it's a fraction of the size [...] You can easily hold it in your palm. And stash it in your smallest bag without a second thought, so it's always close at hand."
Perhaps the biggest surprise about the iPad Mini is the price tag. At $329 (£269) for the 16GB Wi-Fi only model, it is only around £40 cheaper than a full-sized iPad 2. It is also well outside the price bracket of other 7-inch tablets, such as the Kindle Fire, Blackberry Playbook and Google Nexus 7, which all retail at under £200.
The mixed response to the iPad Mini was reflected by the stock markets. After hitting a peak of $700 in September, Apple share prices have been in steady decline. Immediately following the announcement, shares dropped another 3.3 per cent, closing at $613.36.
Several companies have launched 7-inch tablets in recent months, and Apple has now followed suit despite the late Steve Jobs once saying: "We don't think you can make a great tablet with a 7-inch screen [...] The 7-inch tablets are tweeners, too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad."
Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword, said: "With rivals such as Samsung and Amazon proving that there is high demand for 7-inch tablets, it makes sense for Apple to follow suit, and it's surprising they didn't do this sooner. The iPad Mini will indeed face stiff competition on price, but bear in mind the company has shifted many millions of iPads despite many cheaper options being available."