Where a 7" iPad will be a good fit

By | 2012/07/11

There’s been a lot of discussion as to where a 7″ iPad will get used most. Over at Daring Fireball, John Gruber states:

So maybe it’s the people who carry a big notebook who’ll be most tempted to get a smaller iPad, since they’re already carrying more weight. Decisions, decisions.

I suspect it’s being approached from the wrong direction – how would business consumers, and how would adult consumers, happen to slot a 7″ iPad into their device mix? What scenario would lead them to buy a 7″ iPad and a traditional iPad, or a 7″ iPad over a traditional iPad?

I’m betting that a 7″ iPad is not aimed at adults. Any adult who gets one will be cream on top.

Regardless of advice by Gruber that we consider a 7″ iPad to be a small iPad, not a big iPod Touch, I think he’s wrong. I think the real market is in kids – and the parents of kids – who want something ‘better’ than an iPod Touch, but can’t make the jump to a full iPad.

In Australia, the older iPad 2 starts at $429, and the basic “new iPad” starts at $539.

Either way, it’s a bigger piece of equipment, and we know how rough kids can be with their devices. That’s not to say they’re rougher than adults, but typically it’s an adult spending the money, and a primary thought that comes to mind for many is cost mitigation … how do they give the kid something they want in a price bracket that is less of a hassle if its lost or damaged?

Currently faced with this decision, a lot of parents are buying basic iPod Touch units – starting at $219 in Australia.

If we keep looking at the Australian price range though … what happens if there’s a 7″ iPad at say, $279 instead?

Apple have never been afraid of cannibalising their own market, and I suspect the 7″ iPad will have its biggest impact not on the traditional iPad form factor, but on the iPod Touch. Everyone who has wanted an iPad but for cost reasons has settled for an iPod Touch would be able to make that jump into iPad territory with a 7″ unit.

There’s another factor of course: gaming. Portable gaming.

The iPod Touch has made vast inroads into portable gaming, but it’s still not in the same form factor as other portable gaming units. That’s not to say it’s incapable of taking them on, but it does end up with limitations. The full size iPad on the other hand, while beautiful for gaming, is just big enough that it makes motion-sensing games a bit tiresome to play after a while – you’re holding a (comparatively) much heavier piece of equipment. A 7″ iPad, presumably weighing in at some mid-point between an iPod Touch and a traditional iPad? Say goodbye to the remnants of the portable gaming market. What’s more, when the kids (or the big kids) have finished playing an hour or four of games, they can still launch Safari, Mail, and an assortment of other apps that lets them be productive. How many portable game platforms double as a homework device? If you’ve tried to use web browsing on say, a Sony Portable gaming device, you’ll know exactly what I mean here: it’s terrible.

The time does seem ripe for a 7″ iPad … not for me, and not necessarily even for business users – but for all those consumers who have been stuck with the iPod Touch for price considerations, and all those gamers who find the traditional iPad beautiful, but just that little bit too big for comfortable long-term play.