Apple to unveil 'iPad Mini' Oct. 17, start sales Nov. 2, claims report

Plenty of time to snatch tablet victory during holiday season, experts argue

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"Will this broaden Apple's market share? Absolutely," said Gottheil. "Will they do a 'Mini? That's absolutely true. No one, not even Apple, can afford to produce only the highest-priced product. They've shown that with the way they're pricing the iPhone and iPad, they're willing to follow the price curve down."

Gottheil was referring to Apple's now-standard practice of retaining two older iPhone models when it launches a new smartphone, with prices discounted by half and reduced to zero for the second- and third-oldest models, respectively. Apple followed suit last March when it retained the iPad 2 at $399 as it launched a new higher-resolution tablet at the usual $499 entry-level price point.

A new, smaller iPad does, of course, bring up concerns of cannibalization -- buyers who purchase the less-expensive Mini in lieu of the full-figured iPad -- but most analysts contacted today discounted the threat to Apple's revenue.

White estimated that a Mini would cannibalize 10% to 20% of iPad unit sales, meaning that one or two out of every ten committed iPad buyers would pick a cheaper Mini instead.

"Actually, that's not that high [a cannibalization rate]," argued White. "And a lot of people will own both."

He also repeated earlier assertions that a smaller, lower-priced iPad Mini would sell well to education, in developing markets, and in China, where for all Apple's cachet, White has seen relatively few iPads during his regular trips there.

"There will be some percentage of the likely buyers who will say, 'This [iPad Mini] will do,'" said Gottheil. "But there will be others who will say, 'I'll get two.'"

If Apple does debut an iPad Mini this month, some analysts have bet that it will only tighten the screws on competitors. Last July, for example, IDC predicted that a Mini-armed Apple would keeps its share of the tablet market above the 60% bar for the foreseeable future.

"From a corporate priority standpoint, I'd think that their top [priority] is to destroy the competition in the tablet market," said Baker. "And [an iPad Mini] is an important part of that."

More tablet info

The table below shows the most recently announced tablets as reported by Computerworld. Click a tablet's name in the leftmost column to read a news story or review with more information about the device, or view a larger table with more details about each product.

Table created by Computerworld staff using Zoho Creator.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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