Apple’s iPad Mini expected to attract a whole new crop of people

With a variety of tablets on the market, such as the Microsoft Surface, Amazon Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble Nook and Apple iPad models, it may be hard for one to decipher which is the right device for them. To add to one’s confusion on which tablet to choose, Apple has released a new tablet to the market: the iPad Mini.

On Oct. 23, Apple announced the iPad Mini release at its event in San Jose, Calif., which was stream lived. The product weighs 0.68 pounds and is 7.87 by 5.3 inches. The Wi-fi version of the device was released to the public on Nov. 2.

“I’m really impressed with it,” said Tim Braun, director of operations at the Illini Tech Center and Illini Media employee. “While that big screen (of the original iPad) is nice and is still right for some people, I think this one will attract a whole new crop of people to the iPad.”

According to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, Apple sold 2 million to 2.5 million Minis during the launch weekend, compared to the 3 million third-generation iPad models sold in March of this year during its launch weekend. The previous estimate for Mini sales was 1 million to 1.5 million. 

The Illini Tech Center prepared for the launch by opening an hour earlier on Nov. 2. Although Braun couldn’t say exactly how many iPad Minis they sold on opening morning, he did say the location had “sold a couple so far” as of about 9 a.m. Friday morning.

Braun said that one of the factors drawing people into purchasing the iPad Mini is its low price, which starts at $329. 

“This is the least expensive iPad Apple’s ever offered — it really drops the entry level price for an iPad,” Braun said.

Apple is marketing the iPad Mini under the catch phrase “every inch an iPad.” Braun said that other than the “smaller form factor, lighter weight (and) lower price point,” the iPad Mini has “about the same capabilities of the iPad 2.”

“I do think that a lot of people will really like the lighter weight and smaller form factor (of the iPad Mini),” Braun said.

David Neece, a University lab technician and researcher for the U.S Department of Agriculture, is one of those people. Having been an Apple customer since the mid ‘90s, Neece said he waited for Apple to come out with a device like this for some time.

“I wanted an iPad for a while and they were just a little too big, I thought,” Neece said. “I was looking for something a little bigger than the iPod Touch, but smaller than an iPad.”

The lighter and more easily mobile aspect of the iPad Mini is what surprised Michael Williams the most when he finally got to see the new device for himself at the Illini Tech Center.

“The one thing that I think really jumped out at me was the weight,” said Williams, director of learning technologies at the College of Education. “Having used the iPad one, two and three, (it) kind of blows me away how light it is.”

Williams explores new technologies for use in college and K-12 classrooms.

“We partner with and consult with (schools) any time we have something, especially like this, that we feel could have an impact in the classroom,” Williams said. “Our job is to sort of get out there, test it out, put it through the paces, and make some bigger recommendations to the way we might use it in the classroom.”

Since the original iPad’s release in 2012, the tablet has been influential in schools across the country.

According to an article on, Apple announced during its quarterly earnings call on July 24 that they had sold “1 million iPads to high schools and colleges, doubling its iPad sales to schools during the same quarter a year ago.”

The iPad Mini could have a significance impact in schools and colleges, just like the iPad, Williams said. 

“I think the size, the weight and the price hits a point that starts to make it more affordable for schools,” Williams said.” “Schools are always looking for better ways to get technology in the hands of their students (and) this I think is one way.”

As for why Apple is such an influential company in the technology world, Braun said it has everything to do with Apple’s cohesiveness.

“I think Apple’s strength is that they create the hardware and the software themselves,” Braun said. “They design both to work together beautifully and it enables then to create a more integrative experience.”

Morgan can be reached at