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OPINIONS

Apple iPad Mini Release No Big Deal
By: Terri Wells
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    2012-11-02

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    Today is the day Apple chose to release its new iPad Mini, but you'd hardly know it. With New York recovering from Hurricane Sandy and a closely-fought presidential election running right down to the wire, hardly anyone is lining up for the new device.

    Larry Dignam at CNet is not surprised. Purely aside from the other major issues dominating the news, the iPad Mini itself isn't exactly the best example of Apple thinking outside the box. “The product isn't revolutionary, has a defined role, and is saddled with a price that just doesn't scream value,” he pointed out.

    Yes, you can use all the same apps on the iPad Mini that you can use on the regular iPads. Yes, its 7.9 inch LED backlit display is a thing of beauty; you can even use it to make FaceTime calls. It's only three quarters as thick and half as heavy as its bigger brothers. It boasts a power-efficient A5 chip, which gives you up to 10 hours of battery life on a single charge. You can choose between Wi-Fi and cellular versions. I haven't even gotten to the photo and video capabilities, or Siri, or iCloud. But we expect all that from Apple now.

    As Dignam explained, when the iPad first came out for $499, it seemed like a revolution. But the iPad Mini, at $329, feels expensive – as if Apple made it just to get consumers to spend a little more on the full-sized version. Or maybe Apple made it because it could feel Google breathing down its neck.

    Remember, the search giant just released new versions of its Nexus tablet. The Nexus 7 fits in the same size range as the iPad Mini. It comes in 16 GB and 32 GB versions, and ranges in price from $199 through $299. Yes, you read that right: a 32 GB Nexus 7 costs less than a 16 GB iPad Mini. If this seems puzzling to you, rest assured, you're not alone. Google “iPad Mini vs Nexus 7” and you'll get about 124 million hits. The top-ranked comparison review gives the bottom-line edge in value to the iPad Mini, but the full story is much more nuanced.

    So who really cares about the iPad Mini's release today? If you wanted one, you could easily pre-order it without having to wait in line. Well, according to Neil Hughes at Apple Insider, a lot of physicians and other health care professionals can hardly contain their excitement. Why? It's a basic matter of math.

    You see, many if not most medical professionals wear lab coats with pockets that are 8.5 inches high by 7.5 inches wide. That's too small for a full-sized iPad. On the other hand, the iPad Mini is just under eight inches tall and not quite five and a half inches wide. That means it fits easily into a lab coat pocket.

    Epocrates, a company that makes point-of-care applications for medical professionals, noted that “Compared to the general populace, physicians are early and high adopters of Apple products.” Your own doctor probably owns an iPhone as opposed to an Android, and if he or she owns a tablet, it's likely to be an iPad.  The iPad, in fact, has been used in hospitals for more than two years, and Stanford University even started giving its students iPads shortly after the first one hit the market back in 2010.

    So perhaps the iPad Mini is a little bit of a big deal; it just isn't such a big deal for what we've come to think of as the usual Apple market of eager technophiles, artists, and first adopters. It seems to be a sign that Apple has evolved. Whether  or not that's a big deal I'll leave as an exercise for the reader. Feel free to express your opinion in the comments. 


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