iPad mini. Image credit: Apple
There is one rumor going around that Apple might drop the iPad mini in 2015. A vague suspicion of less than stellar sales for 2015 and a not so scintillating upgrade to the iPad mini 3 may have some wondering.
I read an article the other day at the Boy Genius Report that cited a publication from China, the Economic Daily News. The suggestion from the publication was that even as Apple will introduce a 12.2 (not 12.9) inch iPad Pro next year, the company will also drop the iPad mini.
Hooray for the 12-inch iPad, by the way. I want one. But that's an aside.
The reason for dropping the iPad mini, according to the publication, is that sales are expected to drop by 33 percent next year. (Expected by whom? The Economic Daily News.) Possibly, some sources told them about changing component orders for 2015. Perhaps Apple is moving production to another company—or even to the U.S. All this is a hard sell, and I don't believe any of it for a moment.
However, as you might surmise, the article got me thinking. What would be the considerations related to continuing or discontinuing the iPac mini? Here's what I'm thinking.
1. iPad sales have been declining in the past few quarters. At Apple's last earnings report, Tim Cook said something like "No one likes negative numbers." [Referring to sales growth.] So the last thing Apple would want to do is eliminate a model, even if it only accounts for a few million units per quarter.
2. The iPad mini has been in production since the summer of 2012, so its parts are getting cheaper. The fact that Apple can reduce the price on it and still keep it in production, priced at $249, suggests that good margins can still be retained. This feeds naturally into Apple's long standing strategy, as with iPhones, to provide a lower cost model for cost conscious customers and schools. Why remove that sales option?
3. iPads can break. Customers who have fallen in love with this size iPad will want to be able to replace it. I know many, including my wife, who love this 7.9-inch size. It's better for reading in bed, and it's easy to throw into a woman's purse or a man's coat pocket. Not so much with the larger iPad Air series. When time has passed this product by and the installed base is minuscule, then Apple can drop it.
4. Can an iPhone 6 Plus (phablet) with a 5.5-inch display really replace a 7.9-inch display? Seriously? All the time?
5. Finally, the whole iPad mini thing is orthogonal to the rumored 12.x-inch iPad Pro. There's no problem with selling both at the same time, and there's no embarrassment in selling a beloved product even if it's not the number one seller in the lineup. Look how long it took Apple to drop the iPod Classic.
The only reason I can think of to drop the iPad mini would be if Apple is working on a new version of iOS for 9.7- and 12-inch displays. Perhaps this new iOS version takes advantage of the larger display by having two or more windows/apps open at the same time. And then, perhaps, the iPad mini, engineering-wise, can't properly handle this new iOS version for large iPads.
Anyway, it's been fun to ponder the possibilities. I'll be shocked if the iPad mini series with Retina display doesn't have a long and prosperous life.