Back when the iPad mini was just a rumor, many of us expected it to be in the same price range as the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire (US$200). That didn’t happen. In fact, Apple’s budget tablet rings up for more than Amazon’s high-end tablet. But a reputable Apple analyst now thinks the company might do something about that later this year – by releasing a cheaper version of the iPad mini.
Before you get too excited, we aren’t talking an across-the-board price drop here. The long-awaited iPad mini with Retina Display won’t likely be any cheaper than the current model. Instead, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities says that in addition to the 2nd gen iPad mini, Apple will release a cheaper version of the O.G. iPad mini.
So what price are we talking here? Kuo – who has proven to have reliable supply chain contacts – sees it dropping down to the US$199-249 range. That would make for the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 rival that most expected in the first place.
There would be compromises. To get a lower bill of materials (and still retain an Apple-like profit margin) the company could drop flash memory down to 8 GB, axe the rear camera, and push for lower component prices on the tablet's A5 chip.
So, even though the budget iPad mini’s price would better compete with its rivals, its spec line wouldn’t. Especially considering that, by then, Amazon and Google would almost certainly have upgraded versions of their tablets in the same price range.
We'll have to wait a while to find out if Kuo’s latest bit of soothsaying holds any water. The consensus is that we won’t see new iPads until the (Northern Hemisphere) autumn. Even Apple CEO Tim Cook suggested as much in Apple’s latest earnings call. That’s probably too much time for you to bother holding off on your tablet purchase (and there are a lot of great options).
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