Will Apple 'Cannibalize Itself' by Releasing an iPad Mini?

By Gary Kim July 09, 2012

If Apple does market a “less than eight-inch screen” version of its iPad, will people buy it? And if so, will it cannibalize full-size iPads, the Amazon Kindle, Google Tablet?

Apple is perhaps the most ferocious “cannibalizer” of its own products in any part of the consumer electronics business, developing products that cast dangerous shadows over its own earlier devices. Perhaps as it has done in the past, the company will do the same to sales of its 10-inch iPad, to broaden the market appeal of the iPad.

But some think any such device is aimed at confronting competition from Amazon Kindle Fire and Android Tablet at a lower price point than the original iPad.

One survey suggests a bit of truth to the statement that Apple will not cannibalize its sales prospects for the original iPad. Some 43 percent of respondents to a poll said they would definitely buy an iPad Mini should Apple decide to make one. But that leaves a substantial percentage of who might do so.

Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster recently wrote in a research note that Apple could sell four million to six million "iPad Mini's" by December of this year.

Over a quarter of its respondents – 28 percent – agreed with former CEO Steve Jobs in that a seven-inch tablet was "dead on arrival,” and would not likely buy such a device because its functionality was questionable.

Few would discount the notion that Apple will sell substantial quantities of the smaller screen device, as it sold many varieties of iPods. About the only question is whether Apple is pulling from the same potential customer base as, say, the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Again, the answer is likely to be that some percentage of potential users will prefer a Kindle because of its integrated approach to Amazon content. Others won’t care so much, especially those looking primarily for an app and Web content consumption device.

Google Tablet buyers likely aren’t as interested in the content or app offerings, whereas Apple has something of an advantage in terms of apps, while Amazon leads in digital content. If any iPad Mini is produced, many of us would guess that it will both cannibalize some original iPad sales, but also grow Apple’s overall tablet share, taking some buyers that would have bought a Kindle or a Google Tablet.

As always, Apple will risk some cannibalization of an existing product to grow overall sales of a new product.

Edited by Braden Becker

Contributing Editor

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