so when Google released their 7" tablet in July 2012, I bought one.
Then, in October 2012, Apple did a "me too!" and announced the iPad mini. I still think it was a reactionary move and I doubt the iPad mini would have surfaced at all if someone else hadn't released it first.
Wait, you think the iPad mini was approved, designed, engineered, mass manufactured and released in four months?
Haven't you ever heard of rapid prototyping?
This it's the Apple development cycle here! It's not like anyone expects a finished product out of anything first generation.