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Saturday, October 27, 2012

What New Markets Will the iPad mini Open for Developers?

The iPad practically became an industry standard for Fortune 500 companies, it did its part to save the newspaper business, and mobile gaming is bigger than ever thanks to the iPad's large screen, fast graphics, and mobility. Will the iPad mini be used for new things? Will a special market open that the smaller tablet will become known for?

The smaller sized tablet market already exists. However, the infrastructure to support those devices was lackluster, at best. Now that the iPad mini exists, we are sure to see an influx of applications that are designed with it in mind.

What we know is that the iPad mini is lighter, smaller, and has updated hardware, but otherwise is about the same as the iPad 2. With that in mind, we can explore the possibilities that the new tablet has to offer.

Since it is small enough to be gripped with one hand, and light enough to not cramp your hand, we will probably see new apps for active users. For example, the exercise market may be interested in developing apps for fitness that will allow you to hold the tablet while working out. Apps that specialize in rock climbing may become a popular category. Imagine climbing vertically up a cliff side and checking on your altitude, oxygen levels, and mile progress on an iPad mini that you've pulled out of your inside jacket pocket.

Because the iPad mini's screen is smaller, don't expect to see games that are specially designed for it. Instead, the digital novel market will likely grow. That is, not analog books that go digital, but books that are created and distributed digitally. The book market is already huge, but it could grow even more with the iPad mini in town. For example, e-books that specialize in cooking, baking and crafting would work great on the smaller screen. When you are in the kitchen, the last thing you need is something taking up more countertop space. It is less likely that the iPad mini will become the standard in classrooms, however. The larger screen of the full-sized iPad is more convenient for textbook learning.

When it comes to photography and cameras, the iPad mini could become the new hand-held camera for filming shots. It is a great pick up camera and since the pixel quality of the back-facing video camera is 1080p, you are getting the same quality you would with standard digital cameras. No, it won't replace professional movie cameras, but it will make things a lot easier for film hobbyists to whip out their device for some stock footage shots. We could start to seem more apps that focus on creating a better user experience for video recording. The video editing apps will be better on the fourth-generation iPad or a Mac, of course.

When it comes to accessories, we are already seeing new things everyday for the iPad mini. The smaller tablet is so fun that we are going to be seeing a lot more than just smaller cases.

For example, if the iPad mini is conducive to an active lifestyle because of its weight and size, we are going to see a lot of accessories that cater to outdoor usage. There will probably be a more accessories that allow the iPad mini to remain out of a sleeve, but will still be protected. Something like a clear case with a D-ring attachment so that you can hook your mini to the back of your backpack, or even dangle it from your belt while you climb.

Because it is so lightweight, we will probably see more display stands and wall mounts that the full-sized iPad couldn't really benefit from. The iPad mini only weighs a little over a half-a-pound. It could dangle from your ceiling with some twine and you wouldn't worry about it pulling the plaster off of your walls.

Camera-related accessories may become a big hit with the iPad mini. We may seem more underwater cases so you can film while scuba diving. The iPad could easily become a documentary camera and accessories to make the tablet into a steady cam would not be difficult to design.

Overall, it is unlikely that the iPad mini will create new markets for textbooks, games and streaming media. Those markets already exist and are better designed for the full-size tablet. However, the smaller size lends itself to a more active lifestyle and convenience for mobility.

The new markets that will unfold over the next year based on the iPad mini are more likely to be dedicated to mobility and outdoor use. We will probably see an influx of digitally created books, but the textbook market will remain focused on the full-sized iPad.

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