Rumors dating back more than a year suggested Apple (AAPL) was working on a new entry-level iPad, and for 12 months industry watchers pegged the slate’s starting price at either $249 or $299.
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When Apple finally took the wraps off the iPad mini on Tuesday, response to the starting price of $329 on social networks and blogs varied. Apple bulls were impressed nonetheless, and some analysts even raised their price targets on shares of Apple stock in anticipation of a big holiday season.
“We believe the iPad Mini has raised the bar relative to lower-priced competing tablets with impressive hardware specifications, competitive pricing, and the leading software ecosystem that includes over 275k iPad-specific applications, Cannacord Genuity’s Michael Walkley wrote in a note to investors on Wednesday.
“The iPad Mini hardware specs include: 4G LTE support, A5 processor, 7.9″ display at 1024×768 resolution, iSight 5mp rear-facing camera, FaceTime HD front camera, and 10 hrs (9 hrs – 4G LTE) battery life.”
He continued, “In addition, we believe Apple’s pricing of the iPad Mini ($329 for WiFi-only, $459 for 4G base models) will enable Apple to maintain dominant share of the growing tablet market by providing better hardware and a much more integrated and robust user experience at competitive pricing versus lower priced competing tablets.” Walkley upped his price target on Apple stock to $800 from an earlier target of $797.
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RBC Capital Markets’ Amit Daryanani was also impressed, noting that Apple could ship between 6 million and 8 million iPad mini tablets.
“AAPL launched their 7.9” tablet with a $329 price-point. The device is slightly larger than Android tablets in market it is also substantially thinner and lighter,” Daryanani wrote in a note to clients Wednesday morning.
“The Mini weighs in at 0.68 lbs (53% lighter than iPad Gen 4) and is 7.2mm thick. Pre-orders begin Oct-26th with shipments on November 2nd. Pricing begins at $329 (16GB) moving-up to $429 (32GB) and $529 for the (64GB) model. We estimate AAPL could ship 6-8M iPad mini’s adding $2-2.5B in revenues. Also, much of the guts of the iPad mini from iPad 2 implies Bill-Of-Materials may be lower.”
Daryanani maintains his Outperform rating on shares of Apple stock and reiterated his $750 price target.