Big Opportunity for Apple
Recently, there have been reports or rumours that Apple has been exploring bigger sizes for the Ipad. Something around 13 inches.
At first, I didn’t think that would be a good idea, but the more I thought about it, the more sense it made. Apple is in a tight spot developmental wise and this idea might just be the most logical, and possibly, the most interesting option they have.
Everyone knows the tablet market has geared towards the smaller 7″-8″ models. Even Apple’s Ipad Mini has been cannibalizing it’s big brother’s sales. So why go even bigger?
Well, Apple’s Mini has managed to do incredibly well for them but it will never have the margins of the full sized Ipad. That’s going to get even worse for Apple now that Android’s tablets have become a viable and less expensive alternative for consumers. The quality gap has become smaller between Ipads and some Android tablets, and the price gap is growing wider as prices drop on the Android side.
Last week, Google and Asus released the second edition of their Nexus 7″ tablet, and looking at the specs alone, the Ipad Mini One and the yet to be announced Ipad Mini 2 are going to be in big trouble.
Apple has never had to worry about the race to the bottom pricing before as they’ve always touted quality and ecosystem as the justification of higher pricing (and higher margins) and it’s worked.
With most popular apps being available on both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, and Google’s clever approach of accommodating as many of Apple’s features as they can and even supplying Apple’s users with their own versions of Google’s products that are as good (sometimes even better) as the Android versions, they’ve been able to offer consumers a fairly comfortable switch to Android if they choose. Basically, they’ve managed to crack open Apple’s comfort walls that they’ve counted on for keeping their followers locked into iOS.
On the hardware side, Google has really backed Apple into a corner. Apple is going to have a very difficult time to make an Ipad Mini that comes close to the 2013 Nexus 7 spec wise and be able to keep the higher margins that it is used to having. In fact, they won’t be able to do it. Apple will be forced to build the next Mini to as high a quality as cost will allow while keeping the retail price as close to what it is now even though lower would be better. Higher prices for the next Mini are not even an option unless they have a super-feature up their sleeves to add to it. But even if they did, the 7″-8″ market isn’t the place for a high priced, high end tablet.
Apple’s full size Ipad has the disadvantage of being just a bit too close in physical size to the Ipad Mini. For most consumers, it wouldn’t be justifiable to own both sizes.
Some users who need the extra processing power might have an Ipad and then pick up a Mini for extra portability when they need it but they will be the exception not the rule.
So if you can’t win small, maybe you can beat everyone else in a bigger way. With the laptop/desktop market floundering to find a new direction, this could be Apple’s opportunity to really stick a fork in it and redirect that whole segment towards it’s own paradigm.
With Microsoft and it’s OEMs desperately trying to hit on the form factor that will define the next generation of computers, think what Apple could do with it’s own large 13″ Ipad that could finally be the bridge that links tablets to laptops. And more importantly, a link that consumers will adopt.
Windows 8 and it’s touch-centric environment has been slow in catching on as the hardware manufacturers experiment with every twisted, turned, flipped, convertible variation of a laptop they can come up with in the bid to hit on the combination that is better than the traditional keyboard and mouse/trackpad. Nobody’s hit it yet.
What if Apple could build a form factor that was the combination of the Ipad and the MacBook Pro/Air? What if it ran OS X? Or a blend of iOS and OS X? The best of both worlds with as little compromise as possible…not so much compromise as evolution.
The more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Apple has been moving in this direction for some time with their 2 operating systems. This could even be what they have planned. They aren’t that far off now.
If they made a MacBook Air with a removable tablet screen that ran Mac applications as well as Ipad apps, they could own the new generation of computing as well reaffirm their dominance in the high margin end of the tablet market.
This would also be a boon for Apple’s enterprise aspirations as there would be a real “work” machine that business has been looking to get from Microsoft.
Speaking of Microsoft, this would be a serious blow for them as they try to rework Windows 8 and sort out the Surface tablet identity problem.
The ironic thing if Apple were to pull something like this off would be that they would again be considered a leader of innovation. In reality, everything I described that could be done, IS being done already. Google is going this route right before our eyes but they seem to have a way of doing things that nobody notices until it’s officially released.
If Apple does not do something along the lines of what I am proposing, Google will. Well, they’ll do it anyways but at least if Apple does it now, they can maintain their pioneering persona that the public has come to expect.
The 13″ Ipad or whatever it turns out to be could be Tim Cook’s best opportunity to make Apple his own and get all the “fresh idea” monkeys off his back at the same time.
- Dr. Hannibal Moot