Were Apple to unveil a so-called “iPad Mini,” would-be buyers will be highly influenced by the tablet’s price and specifications. On these two points, however, Apple has little room for error, as we found out.

Assuming Apple makes the move and finally releases a smaller iPad, the device’s long-term success will largely depend on how well it compares to products from competitors – as well as the company’s own products.

The competition

Compact Tablets, Competition (click to enlarge)

Recently, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Google have each announced and/or released new compact tablets, ranging in price from $159 to $249. For this analysis, we’re talking about tablets with a screen size that doesn’t exceed 7.85-inches, which is the size of the rumored iPad Mini.

Because of this, we aren’t including the Amazon Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch in our analysis. This product, in our opinion, is much more comparable to the iPad, and not the iPad Mini. Nor will we discuss Barnes & Noble’s 9-inch Nook HD+ for the same reason.

Overall, Amazon has the best deals available in terms of price and storage space. The company’s 7-inch Kindle Fire HD 16GB, for example, is $199, while the Kindle Fire HD 32GB is $249.

These prices, however, come “with special offers,” or screensaver ads. Without these ads, the prices increase to $214 and $264, respectively.

By contrast, Google and Barnes & Nook are only offering 7-inch tablets in 8GB and 16GB formats. The Barnes & Noble Nook is priced at $199 and $229, while Google’s Nexus 7 is $199 and $249.

In summary, on price and storage space, Amazon offers the best compact tablets on the market today.

Apple Products

Compact tablets, Apple Products (click to enlarge)

However, determining an optimal price for the iPad Mini must also include an analysis of existing Apple products. This is where things get tricky.

We understand that in an ideal world, a 7.85-inch iPad Mini shouldn’t be comparable to a 4-inch iPod touch. However, many may do so, since both products may appeal to the same type of buyer.

For example, the iPod touch 64GB is priced exactly the same as the 9.5-inch iPad 16GB, $399. Conversely, an iPod touch 32GB is $299 versus a new iPad 32GB for $599.

In other words, we believe that the price points for the iPod touch could heavily influence the purchasing decisions for would-be iPad Mini buyers, and not in a good way.

Caveats

Two additional points must also be taken into account.

We already believe the iPad Mini won’t include a Retina display. Instead, it will likely be HD only. The compact tablet with the best display, in terms of pixel resolution, is currently the Barnes & Noble Nook HD at 1440 x 900. Additionally, while all current compact tablets are 7-inch in size, we believe the iPad Mini will come with a 7.85-inch display.

Both screen size and pixel resolution are also important factors.

The iPad Mini: ideal pricing, ideal storage space

For the iPad Mini to succeed, we suggest Apple price the compact tablet as follows with a screen resolution to be determined:

iPad Mini, 16GB, $199 – $249
iPad Mini, 32GB, $249 – $269

Hopefully, we’ll know what the rumored iPad Mini will actually look like very soon. Earlier, AllThingsD suggested Apple’s iPad Mini event would be held on Oct. 23.

Stay tuned.

Photo: iPad Mini rendering, Martin Hajek