Apple is one announcement away from destroying the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire
Just over a week ago, Google took the stage at San Francisco’s Moscone Center and unveiled its latest branded hardware, the Nexus 7. The search giant’s 7-inch tablet is made by Asus, and when it launches shortly, it’ll have Amazon’s Kindle Fire squarely in its sights. And if its specs are any indication, Amazon should take Google’s challenger very seriously. That’s because the Nexus 7 features a quad-core processor, IPS display, and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. What’s more, the whole enchilada will sell for as little as $199, and for the first time, you won’t have to sign a contract to get into a pure Google device.
Amazon, though, isn’t without an answer. The online retailer’s Kindle Fire, which is already the second most popular tablet behind Apple’s iPad, will soon be overhauled. Rumor has it Amazon plans to unveil two new Fires at month’s end: a revamped 7-inch slate and an all-new 10-inch model that will be powered by a quad-core processor. According to loose-lipped insiders, both tablets will sport iPad-like metal chassis, and the smaller Fire will carry over its predecessor’s $199 price.
But unfortunately for Amazon and Google, as good as their impending tablets are shaping up to be, Apple’s got something up its sleeve, too.
For nearly two and a half years, the iPad maker’s churned out tablets in a single size: 9.7 inches. In the near future, though, possibly as soon as October, Apple will introduce a cheaper, 7- or 8-inch iPad to complement its bestseller, according to multiple sources. And the day the company announces that device, which experts suspect will retail for just $199 or $249, the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 are in serious trouble.
Why? For one, a smaller, more affordable iPad would appeal to the sizeable pool of consumers who want an Apple-branded tablet but can’t stomach the steep price of admission. And for another, a “Mini” model would make the iPad name even more synonymous with tablets, and that’s a very powerful association. Consider for a second the MP3 player market. Consumers have many options to choose from, but they’d be hard pressed to think of one besides the iPod, and that’s why most will look no further than an Apple Store when they’re in the market.
If Apple launches a pint-sized iPad mini, it’ll give tablet shoppers those same blinders. As far as they’ll be concerned, there won’t be an alternative. And that’s the point. Apple learned from its experiences in the ‘90s that it can’t give its competitors a toehold, and so it won’t. It’ll stamp out rival devices before they gain significant traction.
Which isn’t to say the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire don’t have a shot at succeeding. They do, but as soon as Apple breathes a word about its own 7-inch tablet, it’s suddenly a long one.