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For its past several iterations, Apple’s iPad has just kept getting clearer, more technologically sophisticated, quicker—that is, better in some quality. But the iPad Mini, introduced within just a few months of the fourth-generation version, instead cuts back on some key features. The move is strategic: By eliminating the high-end retina display and reducing the size, Apple is seeking to appeal to markets that have remained relatively unmoved by its existing iPad offers.

SEG006344Who are these buyers? Two main segments seem to be the targets of the Mini version of the iPad. First, because the smaller, less technologically complex version sells for nearly $150 less than the latest generation, it appeals to consumers in developing markets. In these areas, Apple has struggled particularly in its market share fight with competitors such as Google (with the Nexus 7) and Amazon (with its Kindle device). Both those options are smaller and less expensive. Thus, to appeal to these consumers, Apple seemingly had little choice but to go smaller and less expensive too—though the iPad Mini continues to sell at a higher price than either the Nexus 7 or the Kindle.

Second, some market research shows that women tend to prefer the smaller devices, which fit into purses and thus are more easily portable. At approximately two-thirds of a pound, with a 7.9 inch screen dimension, the Mini is substantially smaller than the traditional version (1.44 pounds, 9.7 inches).

But Apple is also the company founded by Steve Jobs, who once teased that tiny tablets would have to come with sandpaper, to enable users to sand down the size of their fingers to be able to manipulate the smaller screens. So even as it seeks to expand its share in some specific markets, Apple continues to advance the cutting-edge technology that has enabled it to sell more than 100 million iPads already. The fourth-generation version thus features a faster processor and the Lightening connector that supports its iPhone 5 as well.

Source: Brian Chen, “Apple, Facing Competition, Introduces Smaller iPad,” The New York Times, October 23, 2012