iPad line-up

Now that the cat is out of the bag it may be interesting to see how Apple will change it’s lineup with the new iPads.
Today Apple will refresh both the iPad mini and iPad Air. Both will get an A8 chip, better camera with burst mode and TouchID. Rumours have us believe that 2GB of RAM will also be part of the picture.

Current Line Up

The current line up exist out of four device’s, each in 16-32-64-128GB and with Wifi online and Cellular+Wifi models:

  • iPad mini
  • iPad mini Retina
  • iPad Retina
  • iPad Air

If you’ve decided on storage needs and connectivity, there’s just two questions you need to ask yourself when you choose a device: Big or small?
If small: retina or non-retina? If big: regular or light-weight?

What Apple did

For the full-size iPad they’ve always (with exception of the original iPad) kept the iPad 2 as a cheaper model, and added the new model on top. Half a year ago they swapped the iPad 2 with the iPad Retina to get all devices on lightning-ports.
The iPad mini has only had one update in its life, and they took the same approach here: keep the 16GB non-retina model and lower its price, and add a new model above that one with more storage options and better features.

There’s always been a clear differentiator between new and old models: they either are significantly lighter and thinner (iPad Air vs iPad Retina), or they have a Retina screen, where the lower-end model doesn’t have this.

What Apple will do

First off, I expect them to change the storage line-up to 16-64-128GB for all new models. Yes, 32GB as a base model would be better, but they didn’t do it on the iPhone so I take that as a clear sign.

iPad mini

They’ve got to drop the non-retina iPad mini. It has the same chipset as the legacy iPad 2, and it’s the only non-retina model.
If touchID and faster chipset is a big enough differentiator, and iPhone 5 vs 5s shows us it is, a possible line-up for the iPad mini to be:

  • iPad mini retina, 16GB
  • iPad mini retina 2, 16-64-128GB

Customers get a clear differentiator between the models, and there’s still a lower-end model. I only wonder if the name will be distinct enough to easily identify which model you wan’t to buy.

iPad Air

This one is similar. The iPad Air will only be available in 16GB. The iPad Air 2 is available in 16-64-128GB with TouchID and A8 as a differentiator.

What Apple won’t do

There’s also another scenario which would be a lot less fuzzy on model differentiators. It’s a similar approach as with the iPod touch:

  • iPad mini Retina, 16GB – iPad mini Retina 2, 64-128GB
  • iPad Air, 16GB – iPad Air 2, 64-128GB

Get the base model for 16GB, or get a higher end model and get more storage and better features. It’s a very clear line-up that would be a lot easier to explain to customers.
But this would force them to either have a 200€ price gap between the lower end and middle model, making the iPad perceived as more expensive, or lower the price of the middle and high-end model with a 100€, which would mean less margins.
Since they didn’t drop the 16GB iPhone 6, I don’t expect them to do the same with these new iPads.