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Maybe You’ve Heard, Apple Released an iPad Mini

Unless you have been living “off the grid”, it was difficult not to know that the rumors which have been swirling for months were true and Apple released a 7” iPad Mini.  Despite the opposition of such a device by the late Steve Jobs, Apple has seen the success of Android-based 7” tablets such as the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7”, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7″ and the Nexus 7” and could not leave the market to competitors to exploit.  Steve Job’s remark at the time was:
7-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad. ….7-Inch tablets are dead on arrival.
However, what has been discovered is that people who use the 10” form factor over a length of time find that it is fatiguing to use one-handed (such as treating it like a paperback and reading or a student using it as an electronic textbook) or awkward to store and use in particular situations.
In the case of enterprises, as an example, they have made a large investment in mobile around the use of tablets on the store floor. Retailers have provided tablets to their on-floor sales people in order to provide answers to questions that buyers may have about an item or inventory information in order to provide a higher level of sales service and keep the sale in-house. However, holding a 10” tablet all day begins to fatigue the user.  The same holds true for the healthcare industry where mobile has also started to make great inroads.  While the 10” tablet makes for a great patient medical chart, it does not stash easily into the scrub pockets that many medical people wear, however, the 7” form factor tablets do.  The same would go for a business person in that a 7” tablet may fit in a suit coat as they rush off to a meeting.  The 7” tablets give developers a large enough screen to build out sophisticated mobile business apps and are not limited by the smartphone screen size.
The lower cost over their larger brethren opens up their use to a wider audience such as hand-held POS systems for the holiday shopping season (portable checkout stations for high demand areas of the store) or an app-specific rollout to a particular department (think giving a mini-tablet in kiosk mode to overnight stock people for inventory maintenance).  Rather than muddying the product choice waters as some mobile industry pundits have claimed, the release of the Apple iPad Mini has validated the 7” tablet segment which opens up a new area of mobile use where smartphones screens are too small and limiting, the 10” tablets too large or expensive for a particular enterprise’s purpose.

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Perry Hoekstra

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