Success has its drawbacks. Apple’s iPad Mini is proving to be a popular new 8-inch tablet, but many are noting that some of its success might be coming at the expense of the original 10-inch iPad. Rumor site DigiTimes reports that of the 19.5 million ‘iPads’ Apple sold in the last three months, about 12.5 million of them were iPad Minis. If true, this already makes the Mini far more popular than the original iPad, which would have sold about 7 million units (down from 11.8 million sold at this time last year).
The site says that this is leading (and we’ve already begun to see this) to a resurgence in the 7- and 8-inch tablet form factor. And, indeed, competitor Samsung has already released a direct competitor to the Mini, the Galaxy Note 8.0 and plans to attack again with a new 7-inch Galaxy Tab in the near future. Even Microsoft is rumored to be working on a smaller Windows 8 tablet.
But the growth in smaller, budget tablets didn’t begin with the iPad Mini. Barnes & Noble kicked off the trend with its Nook Color a couple years back, and Amazon kicked things into high gear when it introduced the Kindle Fire. More recently, Google has captured a slice of the market with the Nexus 7.
Many might argue that this is a negative trend, but iPad sales are still up more than 8 million units from last year, despite the shift from iPad Mini to iPad. It’s important to remember that if you’re a successful company like Apple, there’s always a risk of self-cannibalization when you introduce a new product. It has happened with every one of its varied product lines. The iPod Nano and Touch began outselling the classic iPod; the iPhone is slowly killing iPod Nano and Touch sales; the iPad (and the other tablet competitors it spawned) has reduced demand for Macs; and the MacBook Air undoubtedly put a dent in MacBook Pro sales.
Since its launch, we’ve been using our iPad Mini far more than our big iPad. The Mini can do everything its larger cousin can do but is much lighter, more compact, and $170 cheaper. It appears that Apple did indeed find the sweet spot for tablet screen sizes, yet again.