A $249 iPad Mini is possible, but is it likely?

A $249 iPad Mini is possible, but is it likely?
We've hit that time of the year when rumors give way to educated guesses, and we all compete to see who can get closest to the truth. And, Instapaper developer Marco Arment has had the amazing idea that maybe Apple could build an iPad Mini that's cheap! We bet none of you out there have ever had the idea that Apple might want to challenge the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire on price. 

Anyway, the idea is that Apple may just have an urge to compete with its competition in the 7" tablet market, and in order to do that Apple would have to make a relatively cheap device. Of course, Apple still wants to make a profit, unlike Google and Amazon, who are fine selling at cost in order to pull more users to their content stores, so Apple might aim for the $249 price point. And, that's really as close as Apple needs to get, because consumers have been conditioned to expect something of an Apple tax. 

The thing is that in order to make an iPad Mini that comes in at just $249, Apple would need to use old hardware, the iPad 2 hardware to be exact. Marco Arment says (quite correctly) that this would be "a textbook Tim Cook supply-chain move: selling the last generation's hardware at a lower price point to expand marketshare." 

It's an idea that certainly makes sense, and if it proves true, it would clear up some confusion about Siri and the iPad 2. Apple has been said to have tested Siri on the iPad 2, but it has never been confirmed for anything other than the new iPad. We'd expect that from here on out, all Apple devices will have Siri, which means that the iPad Mini would get the voice assistant, and so would the iPad 2 (assuming the Mini has the same guts). Apple could put together a more powerful iPad Mini, and still get the price to $249, if it is willing to forgo some profit, which an idea that was unheard of with Steve Jobs, but may not be so crazy under Tim Cook. Remember, Cook did give a stockholder dividend with some of the obscene amounts of cash Apple has on hand.

Then there is the issue with Apple's hardware lineup. As a PhoneArena reader, hobble, smartly points out, the $249 price point would cause trouble with the iPod Touch. One could say that such a price point would completely cannibalize the iPod Touch sales, because why would anyone buy an iPod Touch that starts at $199, if you can get an iPad Mini for $249. It makes far more sense that the iPad Mini clocks in at $299, so there is a clear scale in iOS products - $199 for the iPod Touch, $299 for the iPad Mini, $399 for last year's iPad model, and $499 for the new iPad. 

Let's make you guys the experts on this one. What's the likelihood that Apple puts out a $249 iPad Mini? 

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