I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

The iPad Air

Last Friday, like many Apple fans and developers, I woke up in the middle of the night to order one of the first iPad Minis so I can test my apps and make any needed tweaks. But my wife wants my iPad 3, so I’m upgrading to the iPad 4 for myself. And I did the impatient-developer hedge on the Mini: since 4G models aren’t being delivered until November 21, I ordered a Wi-Fi Mini to arrive first and a 4G model for potential primary use to arrive later. So I actually ordered three iPads:

But I’m not planning to keep them all, or even to let them all ship, because I see two possible outcomes:

The latter might sound implausible. After all, the iPad Mini is non-Retina! Eww! And it’s just an iPad 2 internally! Old! Fail!

The first-generation MacBook Air was greeted with similar complaints. The CPU is so old and slow! The hard drive is so small! Why would anyone want that?

It was a painful computer to own. It was extremely slow, but it was just so damn nice, small, and light that it accumulated many die-hard fans who tolerated the slowness. Once you saw one, you couldn’t help but want it. Every other laptop instantly became a chunky brick by comparison. So when the second generation was released in 2010 with huge speed improvements and much lower prices, it was an instant mass-market hit, and now many of us are using MacBook Airs as our only computers.

I predict that the iPad Mini will follow a similar path, but with a big running start: the first generation doesn’t look bad at all, and it’s cheaper. It’s more like if the MacBook Air started with the 2010 generation.

In fact, the only significant downside that I see so far is the non-Retina screen. (The CPU is as fast as the iPad “3”.) But the higher pixel density will look nicer than the crude-looking iPad 2 screen, and you’d be amazed how many people don’t really care much about Retina screens.

To most people, the iPad Mini will be a no-brainer over the iPad “4”. It’s much smaller and lighter, which we almost always want from our portable devices, it’s much cheaper, and it runs all of the same apps.

I have no doubt that the iPad Mini will be the best-selling iPad from now on. iPad 2 and “3” owners may not rush to “upgrade” to the Mini, but I bet new purchasers will overwhelmingly choose it. I bet it’s the one that most of us will be using two years from now, and maybe even sooner.