Is Apple’s iPad mini unstoppable?

Apple’s 7.9-inch iPad Mini is expected to play a critical role in helping Cupertino expand its already impressive share of the lucrative tablet market. 

As Needham & Company analyst Charlie Wolf points out, the iPad Mini will make it considerably more difficult for competitors in the smaller, less expensive market segment.

“Starting at $329, Apple left a modest price umbrella for competing 7-inch tablets,” he explained in an industry note obtained by AppleInsider.

“However, none compare with this device, in our opinion, which is a fully featured iPad except for its size. All 275,000 iPad applications can run on it without modification.”

Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee expressed similar sentiments, noting that he wasn’t at all fazed by the $329 price tag, as Apple has a “strong” track record of optimizing volume and profits – as opposed to the majority of competitors who need to price low to realistically compete in the market.

“We continue to believe iPad mini is the competition’s worst nightmare and likely to drive incremental volume,” he said.

Meanwhile, Brian White with Topeka Capital Markets termed the iPad mini an “absolute homerun” for Apple.

“It felt every bit as good in our hand as we had expected, especially with the more refined aluminum casing that includes the colors of the iPhone 5 (i.e., black and slate and white and silver),” White opined. “The device comfortably fits in one hand and can be carried in our sport coat pocket.”

And last, but certainly not least, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said the introduction of the iPad Mini makes it clear the iOS tablet lineup will be a “bigger part” of Cupertino’s narrative in the future.

“While some investors may claim the [iPad mini] is a departure from innovating on technology for Apple, we believe it is how Apple furthers markets in which it is dominant, using the iPod as a historical precedent,” he said.