iPad mini 2 Release Date: Surprise Apple Launch Of Low Cost iPad Mini For $199?

By Anu Passary , Apr 29, 2013 11:35 AM EDT
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While the grapevine has been abuzz with rumors that Apple could well be on track to launch a cheaper iPhone, rumor now has it that the Cupertino giant could also be prepping for a low-cost version of its smaller tablet, the iPad mini. Moreover, the cheaper version could debut before the iPad mini 2.

According to reports, the budget-friendly iPad mini will start at $199 and will look to throw down the gauntlet to cheaper Android-powered tablets.

"Apple is said to be pursuing a similar strategy for the iPhone, working on a lower-cost iPhone with a polycarbonate shell rumored for launch later this year," reports Macrumors.

Smaller 7-inch tablets are becoming increasingly more popular than their bigger 10-inch counterparts, prompting several companies to launch smaller versions. Moreover, with the competition increasing in the tablet space thanks to cheaper Android-powered offerings, Apple will have to pull up its socks if it wants to stay in contention. The rumors of low-cost iDevices have been gathering momentum of late and could well be an attempt on Apple's part to counter competition.

Several market gurus are of the opinion that Apple could significantly boost its revenue if it appeals to a wider consumer base by offering cheaper iDevices.  

According to a new research note (which examines Apple's prospects) by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the future of iPad lies with its "mini" version. Kuo, who has a good track record when it comes to predicting Apple's future products' plans, hints that the company could be considering launching a low cost iPad mini in the $199 to $249 range.

"Prior to [the] iPad mini 2 launch, Apple might roll out a more affordable iPad mini to compete with Android products," notes the analyst, as cited by MacRumors. "To cut costs, Apple might push for lower component prices, use a more advanced process to produce the A5 processor, simplify metal casing production, remove the rear camera, cut storage to 8GB and find more component suppliers to lower costs. We think this cheaper iPad mini [could] retail for US$199~249."

Currently, the iPad mini starts at $329 in Apple's Online Store. This price point is lower than that of the 9.7-inch iPad, but higher than several competing Android tablets like the Nexus 7, which offer better features for a lower price.

While a cheaper iPad mini will not give a substantial boost to Apple's overall iPad sales, according to Kuo, it could change things at the low end of the market, an area where cheaper Android offerings currently rule the roost.

If the rumors of a cheaper iPad mini bear fruit, consumers could have a tough time picking the best budget-friendly 7-inch tablet.

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