While many technophiles are content to tote around tablets with 10-inch displays, there's a growing appetite for smaller, lower-cost touchscreen devices. And Apple is now dangling tantalizing fruit in front of consumers' noses.
In addition to new versions of the MacBook Pro, iMac and Mac Mini, Apple took the wraps off two new iPads Tuesday. One, we expected: the iPad Mini, a shrunk-down version of the iPad with a 7.9-inch screen, designed to be used in one hand and to compete with low-cost tablet offerings from Google, Amazon, Kobo and others.
The other, we didn't expect. Just seven months after releasing the third-generation full-sized iPad, Apple will start selling the fourth-generation iPad on Nov. 2, an update that includes a faster processor, a better FaceTime camera and improved WiFi capabilities, for the same price as the now-last generation device.
I like the iPad, but this feels like a kick in the junk for people who thought they were buying the latest and greatest model just a few months ago. Not to mention frying consumers' brains with so much choice. Small iPad, or big iPad? Brand new super-fast iPad or discounted, slightly slower "old" iPad?
The tablet party is getting increasingly crowded, and it feels like Apple - that once offered a single, clear choice for a portable computing slab - has invited too many guests. We can get together and snark about it next week... as we wait in line to buy them.