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What could a new iPad Mini cost?

iPad Mini with iPad and iPhone

The iPad Mini, or whatever the new smaller iPad will actually be called, is as confirmed as an unannounced product can ever be. Of course we don’t know for sure it will ever ship, but The Verge, AllThingsD, BGR and of course Daring Fireball agreeing with one another must be a sign: the iPad Mini is coming and it will be made public at an event in October.

And a nice little product it could be. 7.85 inch screen, same resolution as the iPad 1 and 2 (1024 x 768), lighter and thinner and of course: cheaper. But how much cheaper exactly?

Price Umbrella

In July Ryan Jones made a good point about why a lower priced iPad would make a lot of sense for Apple. It would remove its so called price umbrella:

A price umbrella is when a company with dominant market share maintains high prices, leaving an opening for new competitors to enter at lower price points.

In the case of the iPad that price umbrella right now is $399, so Ryan argues, supported by a nice info graphic, that Apple needs to cover the $199 to $399 price range.

Infographic with iPad pricing

So much for a price that makes sense within the iPad family, but what about the other smaller form factor tablets out there?

The competition

Size wise the iPad Mini would go up against the $249 Galaxy Nexus 7 and the just announced $199 Kindle Fire HD (in both cases the 16GB versions). I’m leaving all other 7-ish inch tablets out of the comparison because these two are the only ones that have proven to be good (Nexus 7) or good selling (Kindle Fire).

Amazon has more or less said that they are not breaking even at this price, instead they count on the tablet owners spending more money on Amazon’s content. Google on the other hand should be able to make at least some profit out of selling the Nexus 7, although it can’t be too much.

Apple is known to have the highest profit margins in the industry, on the other hand they also have by far the most cash so if they wanted to they could easily introduce a product with a little less margins.

With regards to its competitors my gut feeling would rule out the $199 price point for Apple. Amazon is already making a loss at this price point and Google only sells you an 8GB version for $199. $249 or more would be my bet after checking out Apple’s competition. But there is still one more factor to look at: The newly refreshed iPod touch.

The internal competition

Apart from finding the right place within the iPad family the iPad Mini would also need to fit in with Apple’s other product lines. Specifically the iPod touch. A hypothetical 16GB iPad Mini and a 16GB iPod touch differ only in one thing: Size. Of course the two maybe have different use cases, nevertheless an iPad that has the same price as an iPod touch? Would that make sense?

This topic was recently discussed in the latest Vergecast and general tone was: Who would buy the iPod touch if you could have an iPad Mini for the same price? Even more so now that the new iPod touch starts at $299.

Well, I think there are a couple of things to consider. First, Apple does not offer a current generation $199 16GB iPod touch. The $299 model has 32GB of storage, so double than what it used to have. Although there actually still is a 16GB iPod touch for $199, it’s just that it is form the previous generation.

The other thing to consider is the pretty high price jumps when choosing models with more storage. For iPad and iPod touch you pay $100 more for doubling your storage (16GB => 32GB => 64GB) which to me always seemed ridiculously much. Maybe that is only me, but I would always go for the lowest storage option, because the markup seems too high for a device that can’t hold all your content anyway. And paying an extra $100 going from $199 to $299 is relatively seen much more than going from $499 to $599.

Putting these two together the iPod touch pricing to me seems a bit weird (and it always has although I used to have a 2nd generation one, but that was in a bundle with the MacBook Pro as a student). And that maybe makes finding the right price for the iPad Mini a bit more of a challenge.

Conclusion

But then again, maybe not. To make this a bit easier, let’s try and put a price on the iPad Mini. After writing all the existing prices in Apple’s lineup and it’s competitors on a piece of paper there remain only two logical price points: $249 or $299. Agree? Let’s go with the lower one for now and see how it fits.

A 16GB iPad Mini for $249 is $150 cheaper than the cheapest iPad (the iPad 2) for $399 and would have the same price as the Galaxy Nexus 7. A 32GB version would cost $349 and a 64GB version $449, still cheaper than the cheapest current iPad at $499. The iPad Mini base version would then also be $50 cheaper than the cheapest current generation iPod touch, but have only half the storage. Maybe then it will be priced at $299. Ether get a 16 GB iPad Mini, or if you need the portability get a 32GB iPod touch for the same price. That could work.

In the end it all boils down to how aggressive Apple wants to enter the smaller tablet market. $249 would be quite aggressive, $299 would bring them closer to their usual profit margins. If I’d have to bet, I’d say $249.

This would be irresistible.

Image credit: iOS family and Price Umbrella info graphic

Rdio: First impressions

Rdio Icon

Let’s start with what Rdio actually is. It is a subscription based music service which means that you pay a certain amount per month and then you can listen to all the music they have to offer as much as you want. What that means is a dream-come-true, because you can “have” every song that you want immediately.

Say you’re listening to a song on the radio and you really want to have it. The only thing you need to know is the name of the song and boom you can have it. That is very promising to me.

There are other similar services around, the best known one being Spotify, which is not available in Germany though.

Does it deliver?

The very short version is: Not really. There are some problems that currently make it a bit difficult to go all in with Rdio.

The first and most severe one is song availability. You can only listen to a song if Rdio has it (they have 12 Million songs) and you are allowed to stream it in your region. Up until now I found every song that I was looking for but about 20 - 30% of them are not available in my region which is a bit too much. After all the appeal of a subscription based model is to get every song you want.

Issue number two is the usability of the app. On a computer you can stream the music directly in the browser (which is very cool) or use a Mac App (Windows too I guess). Both look and behave very similar. What I am missing most is something like a sidebar to house playlists so I can drag and drop songs there. Or at least some bulk actions so that I can mark a couple of songs and then add them to a playlist. Because right now this task is very tiresome. You have to click open the context menu for a song, click “Add to playlist” and then choose the playlist from a dropdown. And that for every single song.

Rdio Icon

Then there is the mobile app, in my case for Windows Phone as pictured above. I haven’t played around with that one too much but from a general app perspective it seams to be well designed. But I had problems with playing the songs I have synced to my phone before. To my understanding when I sync the songs to my phone they should be available offline which didn’t seam to be the case because when I turned on airplane mode and tried playing them nothing happened (although all of the songs had the little phone icon next to them). Also it is not exactly clear what you have to do to actually sync the songs. First you have to say “Sync to Mobile” in e.g. the web app. But then in the Windows Phone app you have to actually trigger the sync manually. I’m not sure about this though, maybe you can just wait as well. It isn’t very clear.

So in the end I am not convinced this is worth paying 10 USD a month (including the offline capability, 5 USD without). Or maybe even 10 EUR (?), I didn’t find any information about prices in euro.

At least the song availability has to get better, with the other things I guess I could arrange. Rdio, are you hearing me?

Nokia Lumia 900 coming to the US

Nokia Lumia 900

If you’re not a gadget freak you maybe haven’t noticed that the biggest consumer electronics fair is currently happening in Las Vegas. Yes it is CES 2012. And although it is opening for regular folks just today many of the keynotes have already been held in front of rooms full of journalists. Nokia’s appearance was pretty brief (only 30 minutes plus Q&A) and revolved around just one thing.

The Nokia Lumia 900

If you’ve seen the Lumia 800 before the 900 will look very familiar, almost indistinguishable at first sight. But that definitely isn’t a bad thing. As part of the Lumia family it is a Windows Phone 7 system, which is great if you ask me as fresh Lumia 800 owner.

If Nokia’s naming scheme is similar to their more current Symbian phones then the 900 is the flagship model with the 800 positioned below it. But I don’t know if it is so easy to categorize in this case. The most specs are very similar and the ones that are not I would say are more of the differentiation kind, not necessarily better.

Right now the 900 is specifically made to target the North American market because it uses LTE, the next generation network technology not yet (broadly) available in Europe. Its larger display maybe is also targeted towards US-customers (?) or it was just a neat way to make room for the spatial needs of LTE and the larger battery (1830 mAh vs. 1450 mAh).

LTE

Just a short sidetrack about LTE. It is the successor of todays so called 3G networks (UMTS and its extensions HSDPA/HSUPA) and in the current form already allows for download rates of about 100 MBit/s so in the ballpark of current high speed wired connections.

Strangly enough the USA is far ahead of Europe with this wireless network generation. Two major carriers (AT&T and Verizon) have already launched, where Europe is mostly looking at some very limited tests at best. This is weird because the US have historically been pretty bad at wireless network coverage and speeds. They are pushing forward with this one though.

Current LTE Phones are said to be battery-hogs, even more so than their 3G smartphone counterparts. And the radios seem to be larger as well. That’s why Nokia might have decided to make the phone bigger, so they don’t have to make it thicker.

800 vs. 900

In summary the most important differences between the two sister models are

  • a 4.3-inch display vs. the 3.7-inch on the Lumia 800,
  • a 1-megapixel front-facing camera for video calling,
  • and the 4G LTE Radios.

To me that leaves one big

Open Question

Will there be a GSM version?

LTE is one of the main differentiators to the Lumia 800 so I don’t know if it makes sense to release a GSM version. In the US both phones will be available, but with different radios. For Europe to get the 900 it would need to be GSM and then I don’t think that would make much sense. Just for the larger display and the front-facing camera.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

The Building Blocks of Modern Web Design in 2011

Tom Milway writing about different aspects of what makes a modern website in 2011. Content for example:

The funny thing about the content-out method is that this is what print designers have always done. You wouldn’t have a client call them up and say: “I need you to design the layout and info-graphics for a book (or magazine article) for me, but I don’t have any of the words yet”. It would be simply laughable. Ass-backwards, if you like.

Nokia Lumia 800 - A shell worthy of Windows Phone 7

Nokia Lumia 800

I think it’s safe to say that this will be my next phone. I mean just look at it. It looks gorgeous!

Now let me go back some time to explain why I think this is such a great phone. In February 2010 Microsoft announced Windows Phone 7, its first ‘real’ smartphone operating system to compete with the likes of iOS and Android. And it was a leapfrog step from the ancient Windows Mobile. It was elegant, fluid and even more devoted to simplicity in UI Design than Apple. It was a miracle. The integral parts of the OS’s design are plain squares, the use of beautiful typography and super smooth meaningful animations - everything comes from and goes somewhere. If you haven’t already you should watch the beauty in action.

In February 2011, so exactly one year later, Nokia decided to completely restart its smartphone strategy: Switching from Nokia’s own Symbian Series to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 for all its smartphones. This of course wasn’t an easy decision and many people where unhappy with it. But it was a fact that Nokia was loosing in smartphones and had a hard time to come up with something to fight back. I kind of liked the idea of Microsoft and Nokia working together from the get go, though I can’t say I wasn’t a little bit sceptic too. Here’s what I tweeted then.

Nokia Lumia 800

Coming back to today my skepticism is gone. WP7 has recently received a major software update - called ‘Mango’ or 7.5 - which gets rid of almost all shortcomings that WP7 had. And on Wednesday Nokia remedied the second problem of the platform: A lack of really exciting hardware. Up until now all WP7 devices were kind of boring, or just not very interesting in any special way. But this: This is the full package. I also feel that Nokia still has a very strong brand presence - at least here in Europe. When I think of Nokia phones I associate things like good build-quality and beautiful Industrial Design. Now that it’s here I also have this feeling that I always wanted Nokia to succeed in the smartphone game. Maybe it’s because they are a European company, or at least that is part of it. Mostly though Nokia is just a brand I kind of like (congrats marketing people, you’ve done a good job putting that into my subconsciousness).

I could go on for some time I guess, talking about the phone’s design origin - the Nokia N9 - or about its WP7 sister model Lumia 710. I’ll leave that and some more background information to the great guys and galls of The Verge in the ‘Further Reading’ section.

One more thing: I just happened to stumble over a booth Nokia has at Berlin’s main train station where I could play with it. It feels extremely well made and solid. The design is even better when you’re actually holding it. It’s supposed to be available in Germany on November 15th for 499 € off contract. For the Lumia 710 it will be 320 €.

Further Reading

A new Blog is born

As some of you may or may not know I used to have a blog over at wirsindecht.org together with @hellamsel. Technically it still exists but I wrote the last post a long time ago so at least for me this wasn’t really working out anymore.

The #1 reason for that definitely is lack of motivation to write a lot (plus twitter) and I don’t know if that is going to change a lot but there are other things too. One is that I want to gather all my stuff here at peterminarik.com and not have it spread around too much. Also I wanted to start writing in English which is a bit strange to do on a blog that was written in German for five years. And finally I have the feeling that now I can maybe write about some really technical stuff too. Like for example that this blog is based on jekyll now and why that is extremely cool.

Of course everything here is still very rough, but I wanted to release early and iterate and improve often.

If you release something and you’re not embarrassed about it, you released to late

I forgot who exactly said that (or something along the lines of it) but it was someone smart and keeping with that I just released this now :) The next thing to include will definitely be comments, so you peeps can tell me what you think. Ok?