I’m still calling this the iPad mini event. But that’s only because it sounds much simpler than the MacBook Pro/iMac/iPad mini event. That was quite a boatload of technology.
Tim Cook. I thought he was much improved yesterday — compared to his performance at the iPhone 5 event, where he seemed overly coached and eager to hurl those adjectives.
The even-newer iPad. Surprise. The 4th generation comes only seven months after the 3rd generation. Never seen that before. Of course an update was necessary, if only to add the Lightning connector. Apple couldn’t very well be selling millions of iPads for the holidays sporting a connector that has no future.
The next new iPad? Taking iPad off its regular spring update schedule is a smart marketing move. By moving to a fall update schedule, Apple will enter every holiday season with a brand-new iPad. That’ll throw a bit more fuel on the flame.
The name. So it really is the iPad mini. The last time I remember the press guessing the correct name prior to the launch was the first iPhone. Probably for the same reason: it was pretty darn obvious. No need to re-frame the argument. Obvious can be a very powerful weapon.
The mini reveal. I really loved the way iPad mini was revealed — a shot of the big iPad, slowly revolving to reveal the mini standing behind it. This appears in the product video as well.
The price. Reaction to the $329 starting price has been swift and negative. It’s true that in consumers’ minds, $299 is worlds apart from $300. But any Apple analyst who gets upset over this should be ashamed for failing to understand one of Apple’s core philosophies. The company does not compete on price, it competes on quality. Apple does not sell to “everybody” — it sells to those who appreciate a premium product, and who are willing to pay a premium for it. Build quality aside, iPad comes with a more developed ecosystem, with a bigger choice in apps and accessories. Those who see value in this will pay for that value — as they have for every Apple product that has succeeded before.
The Android comparisons. Steve Jobs never shied away from jabbing the competition. But the amount of time Phil Schiller devoted to comparing the mini’s 7.9-inch screen to the Android 7.0-inch screen went on for some time. Obviously Apple did anticipate a negative price reaction, and this was its way of minimizing that.
The stock price. I’m no stock expert, but neither are the stock experts. Again, mass amnesia sets in. The analysts punish the stock price because they perceive a horrible misfire, then drive it up when the first earnings report shows that their concerns were unfounded. Investors are wise to trust history, not reflex reactions.
Nice marketing line. In the video, Jony Ive refers to iPad mini as “a concentration, not a reduction.” That’s a very designer-ly, Jony-like statement.
Dan Riccio. Now Dan gets his moment in the sun, appearing in the iPad mini video. Dan, if you recall, was promoted to take Bob Mansfield’s place when he retired — a promotion that didn’t sit well with some who worked with him. Then Bob mysteriously un-retired and returned to be part of Apple’s leadership team. Riccio kept his new title. On the official Apple bios page, Mansfield seems to be a minister-without-portfolio. He’s the only guy there with no job description. Whatever, Dan acquitted himself nicely on the video, and Bob was seen only in the audience during the event.
iPad mini commercial. The Heart and Soul duet played on iPad and iPad mini is a perfect example of simplicity working its magic. Everyone on earth knows what iPad can do. The news is that there is now a mini version. No need for labored demos — just a beautifully stark communication of the basic fact.
The iPod analogy. iPod revolutionized the music category. It became the dominant product, then continued its dominance by expanding into new models. This is what we’re now seeing with iPad. After creating the tablet market and dominating with a single product, it now expands its influence with iPad mini.
The dark sheep. At the end of the event, Tim Cook took special care to note what an amazing year it has been for Apple, just as he had promised when the year began. The list of updated Apple products is pretty astounding: Mountain Lion, iOS 6, the new iPad, another new iPad, two MacBook Pro Retina models, two new iMacs and now iPad mini. Equally astounding is the continued lack of improvement to Mac Pro. With every passing day, Apple makes it priorities more clear.
All in all, I thought this presentation gave us a boatload of interesting stuff. The style of the presentation may be a little more machine-like in Steve’s absence. The good news is, it’s a well-oiled machine.