Apple falling farther from the tree

For an Apple fan like me it’s hard not to get more excited than a kid at x-mas every time Apple launches a new product. However readers of this space may have noted my zealot-like keenness for all-things-Apple has waned in recent months.

My Apple enthusiasm is falling even faster given what I see as unfortunate missteps in the iPad Mini product development strategy.

Remember, I’m the typical nut who in the past thought nothing of lining up crazy early outside the local Apple or Best Buy store so I could get my hands on the next latest and greatest iWhatever.  For example, even though I pre-ordered my iPad 3 the day pre-orders were being taken, I still lined up early on the Friday morning they were available “in store” because I could not bear the thought my pre-ordered unit might not arrive until the Monday. Yes, I have a problem.

But for reasons outlined in previous posts, I did not and will not buy an iPhone 5. My interest was in waiting for the iPad Mini whose smaller form-factor I have been calling for, well, since forever.

However, even in the lead up to the iPad Mini announcement I was critical. My criticism had mostly to do with personal views on telephony and smaller form-factor. But I accepted some time ago I was going to face disappointment on both fronts. No way was Apple going to give me an Apple based “phablet” like the Galaxy Note II in 2012.

I am over it … almost.

With that reality in mind, I turned my attention to getting excited by whatever Apple would bestow upon us in the form of the iPad Mini. I even went so far as to rethink my 5.5 versus 7 inch display arguments.

True to form, on day one I pre-ordered not the wi-fi model, but the 4G-LTE in black 64GB which I was well-advised would not arrive until late November, at best.

Time, however, has a weird way of making one re-think as did this spoof ad which has gone viral in recent days. In fact, I am even considering cancelling my iPad Mini pre-order. Let me explain why.

First, I am still a HUGE fan of Apple but even loyal customers can get disappointed or, in my case, downright mad.

The strategy to dummify the iPad Mini is so terribly misguided, that it’s really no surprise to me Apple stock is tumbling. In fact, I predicted it would tumble here when the iPhone 5 was announced.

My sense is the iPad Mini, even though like the iPhone 5 millions of units will be sold in the coming weeks and months, will cause Apple stock to further significantly retreat. Not because Apple stock was overvalued in the first place (it wasn’t) and not because the iPad Mini is a terrible product. It isn’t.

Rather Apple’s stock price is going to take a further hit because of the unmistakeable signal that Apple is now most definitively off its game without a Steve Jobs at the helm. In my view, the wrong people at Apple were fired earlier this week.

Steve Jobs who reportedly was not a fan of the 7” form factor is surely also rolling over in his resting place and not because the new crew caved on the smaller form factor. I am certain even Steve Jobs would have embraced the new smaller form factor.

However, Steve Jobs would never have accepted placing a lesser technology from an older model into a new product only to be marginally more price competitive.

On the contrary, I see Steve Jobs ensuring the iPad Mini had the A6 chip and Retina Display and charging more for it than the iPad 4 on the basis of fitting more into a smaller package. Hasn’t that always been Apple’s marketing strategy? When did Apple ever target to the lowest common denominator when it already had better on the shelf?

Better yet, why not be really bold and offer both 7″ and 9″ sizes at the same price and let people choose. Apple certainly has the pockets for such a gamble.

Earlier today I examined closely the written font on my iPad 3 versus my iPad 2. Why on earth would I ever go back to reading fuzzy letters on an iPad Mini when for 6 months I have enjoyed the crystal-clear high-definition font of the iPad 3? At age 54 where not wearing reading glasses is no longer an option, the downgraded iPad Mini display may be the deal-breaker for me.

I am sure Apple, if it hasn’t already, is going to get the message loud and clear. Expect to see an iPad Mini {version 2} within six months or less with a faster chip and retina display. This is why I am rethinking my eagerness for iPad Mini version 1.

I don’t mind paying once. Heck, I don’t even mind paying twice. But at some point Apple needs to be reminded that doing things right in the first place is what made Apple such a success. That model for success is the only model that will see me as not just a loyal customer, but a customer that is happy about being loyal.

Nov 3rd – Update

Yesterday, November 2nd the day wi-fi models of the iPad Mini went on sale, I bought a 32GB unit to test. Brought it home and set it all up and played with it for a half hour or so. Just want to confirm the absence of Retina Display is noticeable especially as it relates to text.

The decision to launch the iPad Mini without Retina Display is a deal breaker for me. I have, therefore, followed through on my decision to cancel my pre-order for the 4G/LTE model, and the wi-fi model is repackaged and ready for return to Best Buy first thing this morning.

I’ll get version 2 in a few months if/when it has retina display and a chip that isn’t slower than what’s already in the iPhone 5 or iPad 4. In the meantime, I think Mr. Cook is going to have his hands full with an Apple stock price that is only going to continue to tumble.

Put options anyone?

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