You'll accept these alternatives when that's all there is, you're really desperate or you need a quick, no-strings attached bargain. You'll enjoy them in the moment, but they cannot compare to the category leader. That's why the idea of producing a smaller size tablet, simply for the sake of dominating the market, smells like a bad long-term plan by Apple. Apple sets trends. It doesn't look to what others do, particularly when they're not actual competitive threats, and copy. That's the opposite of Apple culture. However, if some of the other reports I have read are true, I might not be quite as down on the idea as I once was. It's almost impossible to follow the rumor flow, but I have seen some encouraging reports about the forthcoming iPad Mini in recent days. A few have put the price of the tablet at $349. That's a good sign. If an iPad Mini sells for something in the neighborhood of $350, Apple effectively tells people we have produced a tablet that has nothing in common with Amazon and Google's ( GOOG) efforts, other than size (and, of course, size doesn't matter), therefore we can price it at a premium. That's the Apple way. You have to take what AAPL hyper-bull Brian White of Topeka Securities says with a grain of salt, however, he, as well as the always dependable All Things D, speculate bullishly on the iPad Mini's design. White goes as far as saying the Mini might be "slicker" than the latest iPad. If that's the case, you have Apple entering a category it doesn't need to enter not just for the sake of entering it, but to take the space and turn it on its ear. There's a fine distinction between the two approaches. While an iPad Mini still doesn't make 100% sense to me, I appreciate a premium price tag on a superior product. Ultimately, iPad Mini represents a bridge between the ultra-successful iPhone 5 launch and whatever's next. Apple's September quarter could come in soft just like last quarter. The company will probably need to not just hit, but blow away holiday quarter iPhone and iPad numbers when it reports them in January 2013.