Why the iPad mini Will Eclipse the iPad

The 9.7-inch iPad is the perfect size for a tablet. Then why is the iPad mini so insanely popular? Like the transition from the PC, in the post-PC era, a smaller tablet can do a lot of the things a full-sized tablet can, but at half the weight. But what will we lose?

Sometimes, often, I think about a saying attributed mostly to Konrad Lorentz. "Philosophers are people who know less and less about more and more, until they know nothing about everything. Scientists are people who know more and more about less and less, until they know everything about nothing."

Can it be that the very same forces that led us away from the full-sized PC, the realization that we could do 90 percent of what we need to do on a much simpler tablet, are themselves also working on the tablet itself? In other words, an iPad mini can do 90 percent of what a regular sized iPad can do, but at a fraction of the size, weight and cost.

Except when it can't.

Down we go, step by step...

No one, I think, would take great pleasure in reading a full-page conventional magazine on an iPad mini's tiny 7.9-inch display. And the process of watching a major theatrical release, like The Bourne Legacy, on a tiny screen has to pale compared to watching on a 55-inch Plasma. Or even a 9.7-inch iPad, whose visual subtent, rivals that of an HDTV, held at a reasonable distance.

And yet the history of our technology continues to drive towards the smaller and simpler and cheaper. Remember, a decade ago, when audiophiles complained bitterly that kids listening to MP3s, encoded at 128 kbps, were losing out on the majesty of real music? Well, we still have audiophiles, we still have home theaters, we still have PCs, and we still have iPads.

But even as those technologies continue, injured a little, but still surviving, the drive to smaller, cheaper continues. And when you can get 90 percent of your iPad stuff done for $329, then it's a hard proposition to reject. Perhaps, soon, we'll see iPads with a 4-inch screen. Oh. Wait...

More on that below in the News Debris.

Tech News Debris

RFID is a technology that started out with great promise, but has more or less stumbled along lately. That slow process of maturity has companies concerned about the risks -- and probably the relationship to NFC. (RFID has a longer range, but is one-way.) Here's some background: "RFID: Befuddled by FUD." And come to think of it, "What's the difference between RFID and NFC?"

Ben Bajarin, with a cool head, has written another one of his wonderful, insightful pieces, this time: "Toward a More Informed Discussion on Android."

Related to Google Maps for iOS 6, recently approved by Apple, both sides made tricky, risky, calculated business decisions. Here's the best article I've seen on that by Ryan Tate. "Why Google Just Made iPhone King."

You may have read some things here and there about a U.N. treaty for the administration of the Internet. The New Scientist explains what's going on: "Why the world is arguing over who runs the internet."

The Apple iPad has been shipping since April, 2010, and there is still no version of MS Office for it. There was a time when it was thought that Microsoft would jump all over that in order to protect that product, but that was probably before the Surface tablet was a gleam in Microsoft's eye. So it was pushed back. Is it too late now? Will it ever ship for the iPad now that the Surface is shipping. WIll there be one, but with the typical strings attached? Here's some interesting discussion by Ryan Fass: "Has Microsoft waited too long to release Office for iOS and Android?"

I've been referencing some cool Kickstarter projects lately, the Phorce and the Brydge. So I figure I could throw in a reference to this one too. Kickstarter is just fabulous.

Finally, here are some interesting predictions for 2013 by Tim Bajarin. I agree with most of them except for #3 and #4. The ChromeBook isn't going anywhere and neither are hybrids. Tim is dreaming there. But the others are good, especially the 7-inch tablet thing. Perhaps, some day, we'll all forget about what Steve Jobs thought of 7-inch tablets. What was that you ask?  Um, nothing, nothing at all.