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Gadgets & Home Improvement

iPad mini goes on sale here on Nov 2

Apple not planning to get into price war yet on 7-inch tablets, says expert.
The Straits Times - October 25, 2012
By: Trevor Tan
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iPad mini goes on sale here on Nov 2

APPLE'S new iPad mini will go on sale here on Nov 2 as the company goes on the offensive against rivals with similar-sized tablets.

It is also raising the stakes in the bigger-tablet market which it pioneered with its roll-out of its fourth-generation 9.7-inch iPad on the same day.

All three local telcos said they will be selling the iPad mini - with a 7.9-inch multi-touch display - but cannot confirm yet if they will sell both the Wi-Fi and 4G versions.

The 4G version will ship a couple of weeks after the Wi-Fi models, according to Apple.

The iPad mini is about 3mm thinner, 40g lighter and has a slightly bigger screen than Google's 7-inch Nexus 7 which is on sale here. But the Nexus 7 has a higher-resolution screen.

The iPad mini starts at $448 for a 16GB Wi-Fi model, compared to Nexus 7's $399 with the same specifications.

Apple's launch of the iPad mini is in response to what is happening in the market, said Mr Rob Bratby, managing partner of technology law firm Olswang Asia.

"Apple has led the way in the development of other devices such as the smartphone and portable music player, but in this instance, it has to play catch-up," he added.

In Singapore, sales of 7-inch to 7.9-inch tablets grew from 45,000 units in the period from January to September last year to 74,000 in the same period this year, said research firm GfK Asia.

The number of tablet makers vying for market share has jumped from 11 last year to 19 this year.

"The 7-inch tablets have been popular with our customers as their compact size makes them highly portable and yet ideal for multimedia applications such as videos, e-books and online games," said Mr Johan Buse, SingTel's vice-president of consumer marketing.

Still, Mr Gerard Tan, account director for digital technology at GfK Asia, said the 7-inch tablet is viewed as a new consumer segment with a low penetration level - for now - but more brands are eager to jump on the bandwagon.

Ms Shalini Verma, principal analyst at research firm Gartner, said Apple is not planning to get into a price war just yet.

"Yet, because out of the three models of the iPad, the iPad minis are the lowest-priced and expand Apple's market for tablets," she said.

Asus, which makes Nexus 7 for Google, declined to comment when asked if it will cut prices.

Samsung, which has a 7-inch tablet, said it is evaluating the situation.

The news of the two new products from Apple has drawn mixed reactions.

For 32-year-old communications professional Pamela Phua, the iPad mini is what she has been waiting for because the current iPad is too big for her.

"It will fit into even my smallest handbag and is lightweight so its portability is a winning factor for me," she said.

But technology manager Tang Weng Sing, 40, does not feel that the fourth-generation iPad is a big deal. "There is no 128GB version and it is still as thick and heavy," he said.

The design and specifications are essentially the same as its predecessor, except for a faster processor.

Apple has sold 100 million iPads since 2010.

Both the new iPad and iPad mini come with 4G capability that can hook up to the networks of all the local telcos.

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