Will Apple Win Big by Going Small?

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By Kirsten Salyer

At a time when the tech world stops for every Apple Inc. announcement, even the smallest iPad can change the course of the industry.

Apple's new iPad mini, announced today, will help double the size of the 7-inch tablet market this year to 34 million units, according to a IHS ISuppli report. The smaller iPad, with a 7.9-inch screen, is cheaper than its 9.7-inch sister, starting at $329 compared to $399 for the iPad 2.

The new design is smaller, sleeker and "light as a pad of paper," marketing chief Philip Schiller told the crowd gathered in San Jose, California. But while the ability to "hold it in one hand" may be a cool plus, its appeal to classrooms, at a lower cost than previous models, is the hard sell, as schools increasingly turn to tablets over more expensive laptops. According to the Center for Digital Education, education spending on information technology was about $19.7 billion in the 2010-2011 period, Bloomberg News reports.

The announcement of the mini coincided with an iPad milestone: Apple has sold 100 million iPads in two-and-a-half years. Amazon Inc., Barnes & Noble Inc. and Google Inc., have sold 15 million 7-inch tablets -- combined. At $329, more than many people estimated, it's unlikely the iPad mini will compete with the more inexpensive e-readers. Rather, it seems to be taking aim at the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD.

(Kirsten Salyer is the social media editor for Bloomberg View. Follow her on Twitter.)

Read more breaking commentary from Bloomberg View columnists and editors at the Ticker.

-0- Oct/23/2012 19:35 GMT