This is a big week for smaller devices.
Today was Apple's event (or read the live blog from WSJ) at which many updates for software and devices were announced alongside of new sizes for three of the devices: MacBook Pro 13", Mac Mini, iMac, and iPad Mini. All of these devices feature various new technologies and software-hardware interface designs from Apple to deliver the seamless experiences that Apple fans love to love. There will be much written about these exciting new devices and particularly Apple's Fusion Drive which is a seamless and self-learning SSD-HDD hybrid that incorporates software management for assigning applications to either the SSD or HDD depending on individual's use-cases.
Apple's announcement today of the iPad Mini, as iSuppli underscored earlier in the day, "will turbocharge the market for 7-inch tablets, helping the market to approximately double in 2012 and 2013 […]." That is an important data point especially in light of the head-shaking we've endured throughout 2012. With the holiday season and the cyclically higher volume quarter begun, having this media attention and interest in devices is welcomed.
Importantly, the tablet PC and smartphone market have been the (only) bright spots in 2012, and with new devices and real choices proliferating, sales should follow and hopefully realize iSuppli’s forecasts for 2012 and 2013: " Global sales of tablets with displays in the 7-inch size range are expected to boom by about 100 percent this year to 34 million units, up from 17 million in 2011 […]. Sales will nearly double again in 2013, rising 96 percent to 67 million."
The small battles heat up
This week is not just about Apple though, it is also about Microsoft. The tête-à-tête will heat up on Friday, Oct. 26th, the day that pre-orders begin for Apple's iPad Mini, and the day that Microsoft begins sales of their Surface Tablet in Microsoft stores. The day that the sales can begin to be counted and with that the actual votes can begin to be tallied (to borrow from the political metaphors ripe in the US these days).
In today's economic-aware market though, price points matter quite a bit to consumers, and one question is whether the difference in the base prices will present opportunities or challenges to these two OEMs: the base iPad Mini begins at US $170 below the base Surface with Windows RT. While both Surface and iPad Mini offer a number of features that users will want to consider, what is clear is that competition continues to be strong, particularly when adding Samsung, HP, Asus, Lenovo, Dell, Acer, and Toshiba to the list. The positive side to this strong competitive market is that innovation will result and choices will support not only the various platforms, device sizes & types, but especially consumer and enterprise demand.