Today, Apple unveiled a new lineup of devices: new iMacs, Mac Mini, a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro (which, weighing in at only a half-pound more than the Air, is sure to be a best-seller, as its predecessor was), a fourth-generation 9.7-inch iPad (with 4x faster A6X processor, expanded LTE, faster Wi-Fi, Lightning connector, improved cameras, and other refinements), and…ta da!…the long-awaited iPad Mini. As early as October 2011, credible reports from Taiwan surfaced about a 7.85-inch iPad, so it’s no surprise to see this product. And yet, Apple’s execution dazzles. You pick up this device—which weighs only 0.68 pounds—and it feels feather-light, perfectly weight-balanced—and decidedly not made out of plastic, as its competitor devices are.

I want to pause for a moment to comment further about the weight, because my very first impression of the first-generation was “It’s heavy!,” much to the chagrin of Michael Tchao, VP of Product Marketing for iPad. The iPad Mini has a larger screen than competing devices from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Google, but it’s somehow lighter than its competitors. Here’s how the weights compare, courtesy of each vendor’s product specs page:


Weight in pounds

Weight in grams

iPad Mini

0.68 (source: Apple)

308 (source: calculated conversion from 0.68 lbs.)

Barnes & Noble Nook HD

0.77 (source: B&N)

***300 according to B&N, but 349 using a calculated conversion from 0.77 lbs.

Amazon Kindle Fire HD

0.87 (source: Amazon)

395 (source: Amazon)

Google Nexus 7

0.75 (source: calculated conversion from 340g)

340 (source: Google)

Why is weight so important? Because the lighter and smaller the tablet, the more likely it is to be used in more places, especially outside the home. Currently, 51% of total tablet time is spent while watching TV or in bed, according to Nielsen. A Forrester survey from August 2012 shows that only 11% of US tablet owners say they use 3G on their tablet, and 9% say they use 4G; 3% tether their tablet to their mobile phone for a connection and the rest use only Wi-Fi. I’ve said repeatedly that tablets today are “portable, but not truly mobile” devices because of these stats—but the iPad Mini could shift that balance. A smaller, lighter iPad could also attract more female buyers—Barnes & Noble’s sweet spot.

The iPad Mini, starting at $329, doesn’t meet its competitors lowest prices, but it doesn’t have to. Shaving $170 from the price of the 9.7-inch iPad makes this device more affordable for more consumers in more countries.

Apple is entering the 2012 holiday season with its strongest product lineup ever, with wider retail distribution than it has ever had. Apple already has momentum and leading market share in every category: It has the best-selling models of desktop (21.5-inch iMac), notebook (13-inch MacBook Pro), tablet (iPad 3), phone (iPhone), and mp3 player (iPod). So its new products aren’t “game changers,” as such, because Apple is already leading every game it plays. But these products will maintain Apple’s momentum.