The iPad Mini 2 is definitely rolling out of Apple's production lines in the fourth quarter of 2013, to be set for a release date either in late October or early November as the tech giant intensifies its efforts to turn back the surging Android tablets in China.
When the first Mini debuted in late 2013, it quickly became the force to reckon with, besting its Android challengers with ease with China reflecting the same global trend. But as of June 2013, the situation has radically changed, which spells the reality that the Mini is losing traction as Android tablet brands became more appealing - both in terms of pricing and capabilities.
According to Bloomberg, the overall iPad market in China, now regarded as the second biggest market in the world, next to U.S., for mobile devices, has significantly shrunk in the past 12 months leading to end of June this year.
From 49 per cent in June 2012, the numbers retreated to 29 per cent June this year, the same Bloomberg report said, citing data from global research firm IDC.
And as the iPad market pie recedes, other tablet players in China picked up, with Samsung and local manufacturers posting the most gains. Samsung's Galaxy Tab shipments into the country, for instance, grew by double-digits during the same period following its difficult start in 2011.
The bottom line is, "Android has quickly seized the tablet PC market with a crushing force," IDC researcher Dickie Chang told Bloomberg in an exclusive email interview.
With the development, Apple feels the heavy pressure of coming up with something new that will magnetise the potentially hundreds of millions of gadget buyers in China, which is emerging as the tech giant's new market focus after the United States.
And the upgraded iPad Mini 2 should strengthen the weakening grip of iPad in China. In the three months spanning Q2 2013, Apple only cleared 1.5 million iPads while Samsung is not too far behind at close to 600,000 units of Galaxy tablet, CNET said.
It used to be that the tablet war being waged by Apple and Samsung in every possible worldwide arena is a no contest as the former always leaves behind the latter at a great distance. Now, the South Korean tech titan is breathing hard on Apple's neck.
That also means that the iPad Mini 2 effort, which is largely anchored on faster processing chips and high-resolution Retina panel, could prove insufficient as the same Bloomberg report also indicated that Chinese consumers are turning away from the iOS tablet to get the cheaper alternatives.
Enter the rumoured cheaper iPad Mini 2 version but according to KGI Securities' Ming-chi Kuo, the tablet's price point could prove beyond the affordable level or above the $330 price tag of the 2012 iPad Mini. Besides, if this supposedly lower-cost Mini 2 becomes a reality, it will not arrive until March or April 2014, Mr Kuo said.
Still, many analysts are banking on past Apple track records - the company sells not the cheapest and most powerful device but it attracts more attention due to its solid iOS ecosystem that ensures optimal gadget experience, both in the smartphone and tablet spheres.
Release date of both the iPad Mini 2 and the slimmed down iPad 4 is pegged to take place by the mid-part of Q4 2013, weeks after its supposed October unveiling and right smack off the 2013 holiday quarter.
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