The dwindling case for the iPad 2

(No, this post is not about a new protective cover that wraps around Apple’s second-generation tablet ever more tightly.)

Breaking a bit with tradition at the debut of the iPad mini, Apple did not keep the previous version of the iPad 3 in the lineup with the release of the fourth-generation iPad. Instead, it eliminated the third-generation iPad and instead left the slower, second-generation (iPad 2) product in the lineup. About the only possible explanation for this was that Apple couldn’t get the price of the third-gen iPad down to the $399 price point it was seeking to address competition in the 10″ Android tablet category. Costs have also likely come down more on the iPad 2 components so that that product can now be more profitable at $399.

However, it also puts the older iPad 2 closer to the new iPad mini that shares its processor and resolution. This begs the question, what is the case for the iPad 2 given that the iPad mini is 80 percent of its size and identical in most other respects. In fact, the iPad mini’s cellular models can connect to LTE networks whereas the iPad 2 is limited to 3G.

As smartphone trends clearly show, there is a large group of consumers that will flock to the larger screen. There’s also something to be said for having a product below a pricing milestone ($350) and another below $400. But, all things being equal, and most are in this case, the iPad mini just seems a bit too close to the 10″ iPad’s price and capabilities. The lineup would have been a bit cleaner with either the iPad mini at $299 or the third-gen iPad between Apple’s latest tablets.

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