If you're competing with the iPad mini based on price, you're telling people to buy the BlackBerry PlayBook

Apple absolutely left an umbrella beneath the iPad mini's $329 starting price. From the moment they showed off the Google Nexus 7 on stage at the October iPad and Mac event, Apple was making the case that the iPad mini was worth more than smaller, cheaper competing tablets. Apple was arguing premium over discount, value over cost. It's the same argument Apple made against low-margin netbooks when they released the MacBook Air. And it's an argument that leaves Apple as wide open to competitors playing the "cheaper" card now as it did then.

Competitors can -- and already are -- claiming that they offer more for less with their products than Apple does with the iPad mini. Even if the argument is severely contorted, it can be compelling. For many buyers, price matters, and for some it matters the most. For some, price outweighs any other consideration.

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That's the problem with it. If you compete based primarily on price, you can be competed against primarily on price. If you claim to be cheaper, but you're not the cheapest, you're going to reap what you've sown.

So while the iPad mini is indeed more expensive than the Google Nexus 7 or Amazon Kindle Fire HD, neither of them are the cheapest small form factor on the market, not even from a major mobile player.

The BlackBerry PlayBook is.

Sure, the BlackBerry PlayBook isn't the latest hardware anymore -- it's closer to the original Kindle Fire in specs than the Nexus 7 or any of this year's Kindle Fires -- but it's scheduled to be updated to BB10 in 2013 and that looks to be a much more functional tablet experience than what Amazon offers, and something that could rival Android for not-Apple in not-Apple lovers' hearts. Even the PlayBook as it stands today is arguably a better pure tablet experience than either the more-properly-defined-as-a-media-appliance Kindle Fire, or the "blown up smartphone" interface elements that still plague the Nexus 7.

And if you look around, you can find the Wi-Fi only version of the BlackBerry PlayBook on sale for only $150.

Sure, there are a lot of advantages to the Kindle Fire HD, especially if you're all in on Amazon and live in the U.S.. Absolutely, the Nexus 7 is the clear winner if you're a heavy Google user and want Android on your tablet.

But if you're arguing something other than value, if you're complaining that the iPad mini is way too expensive for a small tablet, if all you care about is the lowest cost, legitimate device possible, whether you're Amazon, Google, or anyone else -- right now you're arguing for the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Excellent point. Does anybody else find it hilarious that Amazon had to resort to removing the Fire HD/iPad mini comparison ad?
  • I don't think they "resorted" to anything. They knew once they got their jab in, it would be all over the tech blogs when they pulled it. I'm pretty sure it was planned out just the way it happened.
  • Exactly. And I, being 12 years old at heart, really enjoyed seeing the word "ballsy" on the Amazon main page for a day.
  • Rene: how about headline: *if its too expensive for U than its not for U* its that simple...
    but as my Granny used to say : " we are not so rich to buy some cheep things"...DUDES
  • if someone really considers Kindle, I would say consider this DUDE :
  • I used to have a Playbook when it first dropped. I actually really liked it. The only downside was the little app selection App World had. I would prefer to have the Playbook instead of the Fire any day. But my iPad beats both on their best day.
  • The only problem is what most people consider "legitimate." As far as a strong app marketplace that is sure to grow over time, the choice doesn't include the blackberry playbook. For all we know rim could totally give up on their tablet tomorrow or next year. Unless you're just looking for an e-reader/movie player, its only about apple vs android at that point.
  • That's assuming BB10 never launches. BB10 developers are currently growing the app offering and those apps will come to PlayBook.
  • "As far as a strong app marketplace that is sure to grow over time, the choice doesn't include the blackberry playbook." It doesn't include Android tablets either unless you consider blown-up phone apps optimized tablet apps. For the most part, only Google's apps are optimized for Android tablets and if that's all you're going to use then fine. But if you plan on doing anymore or using a bunch of other apps forget it. The iPad has far more and far higher-quality tablet-optimized apps.
  • Something that many forget is the ability for the PlayBook to use Android apps. Now granted most Android apps are really phone apps, but you still are getting apps on the PlayBook. Once BB10 is released, there will be many more apps, many developers have committed to doing apps for BB10.
  • Something that many forget is the ability for the PlayBook to use Android apps... I guess its a nice way to describe the emulation process, although its absolutely not the same (using is not running)... no one knows for how long Rimm can run its business even if BB10 would be out soon
    its heading in Palm direction
  • Recent news have BB10 software on test at 50+ carriers...
  • This article came across a little condescending. My opinion is that Apple introduced the iPad mini to ensure that they do not continue to lose market share to Android, like they did with mobile phones. I think we can all recognize that Apple has a more refined mobile OS and hardware that is the envy of the industry, but the reality is most people are concerned about cost. If the iPhone wasn't subsidized would it be as competitive as to Android phones, I'm not so sure. I think Apple is trying to avoid, at all costs, the history lesson from the PC era and making sure that its products stay in reach of all consumers. Apple currently rules the roost when it comes to tablet, but its market share keeps dwindling every quarter...regardless if consumers keep them in their cabinet drawers like T. Cook says.
  • The BlackBerry Playbook rOcKs! I've had it since it launched. I use it every single day and I take it everywhere. It's an excellent tool, especially for business. The OS is silky smooth and multi-tasking is huge for productivity. I'm not an Apple hater...I happen to use an iPhone 4s and I do like it a lot, however, I will definitely be jumping back to RIM as soon as BB10 launches...nothing wrong with Apple... I took it for a spin. Apple may be for a whole lot of people, but it is def not for me.
  • Nobody ever said ".... if all you care about is the lowest cost..." I have the iPad3, Playbook and Nexus 7. The playbook has very good specs but the user experience is horrible. Best browser goes to the iPad but for the price of the Nexus 7 ($199) along with the user experience and portability, the mini Ipad has a steep hill to climb. I was ready to buy the mini Ipad but at that price ($329 plus cover) I am buying the new Nexus 7 (16GB). Apple seems to be resting on its laurels and Google is catching up very very fast. The absence of Steve Jobs is beginning to show.
  • Seems like Amazon would be the only one that gets hurt by this. Apple advertises their simplicity and premium feel.
    Google advertises their convenience and Cloud access.
    Amazon seems to be the only one that is actually saying "We're cheaper, so buy us.
  • Hello! A raffle ticket for me please.
  • Content, content content. The iPad has it because of iTunes. The Playbook has it because of..... flash. It's not the easiest to use , but since it's cheap and runs flash, it's great for couch surfing streaming video.
  • Not sure why you say the Playbook isn't the easiest to use. One finger swiping with no home button seems pretty simple.
  • If the only competition isn't available until 2013, is it actually what you should recommend?
  • sigh, ye of little comprehension... Rene mentioned that it wont be updated to BB10 until 2013. This does not mean it does not exist however. The PlayBook works off the BlackBerry Tablet OS, which essentially is the basic framework behind BB10. In other words, its a good value now, that will get even better in the start of next year.
  • At $200 vs. $330 for 16GB models, a value proposition seems valid. However, at $300 vs $560 for 32GB+cellular, even though the iPad Mini includes LTE, the value proposition seems pretty weak.
  • buy Proton... if U're a cheap-skate
  • This article attempts to fling mud in the eye of iPad mini price critics: "Oh you're dogging the beloved Apple because the mini is expensive? Well then YOU like Blackberry, so there!" Reminds me of the fat kid in Sandlot saying 'oh yeah, well you play ball like a girl!' And it's just as childish.
  • untill u r a super rich person spendin huge amount of money on ipad mini is understandable. wid this price tag n no-retina display n havin specs of ipad 2, its not worth it. its like sellin a old product in a smaller version n brandin it new. its better to spend 100$ more n buy the 4th gen ipad. Apple jus cant keep askin us to pay a premium price for a product which doesn't give u a premium feel n specs to brag about. Sorry Rene we understand wat u r tryin t do here, but this price of ipad mini is not exceptable.
  • I believe that sometimes you get what you pay for and in this case it couldnt be any more true. Just based on the spec sheet alone you can tell that the ipad mini is bring quality and innovation to the game. You can count on the product based on the track record. The price is definitely a factor, understandably so, so with that in mind...just go for the next best thing, which is clearly not the playbook... GizmoTrims.com - iPhone 4 & 5 cases / Galaxy S 3 cases/ & MUCH MORE!
  • Blown up iPod touch being described as quality and innovation, lol.
  • ”Sure, the BlackBerry PlayBook isn't the latest hardware anymore” - Wait, doesn't the BB Playbook have the same specs, if not slightly better (3mp ff camera, aGPS and a touch higher ppi on the screen) as the ”new” Ipad mini despite being well over a year older? Way to go Apple and do the RIM trick by repackaging last years hardware into this years device...
  • Exactly, I think people (typically android fans) get too caught up in specs and not focus on experience. Putting a jet engine on Porsche doesn't always make it better than the next Porsche.
  • ++ 1 typical android fanboys. Need to get over the specs. Till this day I have yet to use an android product that doesn't "Lag" now that's quality for you.
  • Hahah, could tell from the title this is another of Rene's jokes :-D
  • When you have to resort to strawman arguments, it shows your case is weak! It's not about "lowest" price, and you know it Rene.
  • I find this article condescending as well as some of the comments. All of these tablets are comparable on most levels. Screen density is close enough that 99%of people wouldn't know the difference except possibly the surface. They may have shat the bed on that front. Processors and ram are all comparable and capable of running a good os. Crappy storage on the nexus with no rear camera and no tv out makes it a poor competitor. The kindle fire is a bit too 'amazon' for me. That is just personal preference,but I can see that as an obstacle for many. The ipad is classic apple. Decent os and good all 'round specs. It has itunes and imovies and ibooks and blah blah. Apple is alot like Amazon in that respect. But the OS is stable and smooth and access to apps and whatnot is generally quite easy. Is that worth the premium? Far as I can tell, what kept the playbook from really taking off was the price point. Smaller tablet with better specs than the ipads of that era. The tablets were completely capable of becoming more than they are at this point in time but we all know they overpriced it by trying to sell it at ipad prices. If it had priced it where the ipad mini is now they would have sold out. But everyone balled at the price and it's lack of native email which I found overblown. But the playbook came out almost 2 years ago. All of these tablets have 2 year old specs or worse. The ipad, by that standard, IS overpriced especially if the most expensive playbook is less than the least expensive ipad. Apple's os isn't that much better than android or the playbook os to justify the price either. Preference comes into play but I don't know why someone would prefer paying more for a tablet and for accessories. Although some are under the impression that more expensive means better.
  • They pay more for the service that comes behind it. Where do you take android tablets when they break?
  • You need to your tablet table. The LTE PB has a faster 1.5 Ghz CPU, not the 1 Ghz the wifi only vs has
  • Sorry, I'm a newbie. Quick question: when people are talking about 'updating' the playbook with the new v10 OS, do they mean there will be a new version of the playbook coming out (that one should wait for), or that the existing playbook will get an update...?
  • BOTH. The existing PlayBooks will be getting a BB10 update, but there is also a new 10" PlayBook coming out sometime next year.
  • I think i prefer the playbook above all and I think it will get better with the BB10 update. Can anyone tell me the current price of the playbook and what possible updates can we expect to come with BB10? Blackberry is my thing.
  • Price is $149 for the 32GB model in Canada. That has occasionally been put on sale for short periods, but it seems to always go back up to $149 after the sale (which is still a great deal)