The iPad mini 2 will launch in two flavours: a high-end iPad mini 2 with Retina display, and a budget iPad mini aimed at cheaper rivals. But we won't see either until 2014.
That's according to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with KGI Securities, who has just released his latest research note on the topic of Apple product launch plans. As well as making predictions about Apple's next Haswell iMac and MacBook Pros, and anticipating production challenges for the iPhone 5S, Kuo claims that Apple will divide its iPad mini line into budget and high-end versions, and launch both in March or April 2014.
If this were anyone else, we'd probably take these predictions with a grain of salt, but Kuo has one of the best track records in the Apple analysis game. Last August's product launches were a triumphant vindication of Kuo's prophetic powers, which proved almost entirely accurate.
Apple's iPad mini was a colossal success; but some hope that its successor will come with a lower price tag
iPad mini 2 budget model: the pros and cons
Many analysts and Apple fans have called on the company to launch budget versions of its iPad mini and iPhone product lines; in principle this would help Apple to challenge Google Android's stranglehold on the cheaper mobile device market, and get a foothold in the increasingly important developing markets: China, India, Brazil and others. [SEE: Best cases for the iPad mini]
There's been no official word from Apple, however, on the appeal of this strategy, and there are reasons why it might not make sense: for one thing, Apple's policy has always been to keep its product lines as simple as possible, in contrast to the diverse range of Samsung, HTC and Microsoft handsets and tablets, so that the consumer buying decision is made as easy as possible. Apple also likes to maintain a 'premium' flavour to its products, which are always beautifully engineered, packaged and advertised, and lower-end editions made from cheaper materials are only likely to dilute that.
Finally, is there really any need to launch a model specifically to be cheaper? Apple has enjoyed increased (if debated) sales in India by pushing older iPhones, rather than new budget models. If you want a budget iPhone 5, then how does the iPhone 4 grab you? And in the same way, when and if an iPad mini Retina model launches, the iPad mini 1 will naturally become a budget model to be sold alongside.