∞ About this 7-inch Apple iPad

Analyst are predicting that Apple will begin work on its 7-inch iPad very soon. They are wrong. [ad#Google Adsense 300x250 in story]The fact is, Apple already has a 7-inch iPad. They have had one of the smaller devices since they started making the 9.7-inch iPad that we have now.

To be clearer, the two devices were developed at the same time. They have pretty much the same specs, except, of course, the 9.7-inch model has a lower density screen than its smaller counterpart.

Why did Apple choose to go with the larger model instead? Only Steve Jobs knows that for sure.

Perhaps Apple didn’t want comparisons to the iPhone or iPod touch. Even though those comparisons were made with the larger iPad, they would have been even more prevalent with a 7-inch model.

With other companies releasing their 7-inch tablets, you may wonder why Apple doesn’t push its device out the door. I think the answer to that is quite simple — they don’t have to release it.

The iPad is the one of the best selling devices in history. Why would Apple need to release a smaller version to compete in a market it owns. It doesn’t.

When Apple decides it is going to release a 7-inch iPad, rest assured it has been in the works for a long time.

The next time someone says they believe Apple is beginning work on a 7-inch iPad, you will know they are wrong because it’s already done.

Update: I mistakenly said the 9.7-inch had a higher density screen. This has been changed to a lower density screen.



  • James

    Except if there is a 7-inch iPad that Apple intends to release alongside its existing 9.7 inch iPad, how does it work with existing iPad apps? Is the 7 inch screen the same resolution as the 9.7 inch screen? If so, how does the iPad compensate for on-screen elements that would otherwise be too small on the seven inch screen? If not, how does fixed artwork scale within an app to the new screen?

    Any rumor that doesn’t address these issues should be dismissed. I have no doubt that Apple made mockups of iPads at various sizes. But now that the existing iPad is out there, I seriously doubt they will put a different size with it. Apps designed for a larger screen won’t function well on a smaller one.

    • Lucas

      It would seem that Apple tested the 7 inch and decided against it. And will likely stick to that decision for a while. Perhaps one day they will drop the touch’s current size and release a 5 to 7″ replacement. but a touch, a 7 and a “10″ is unlikely at this point. Because if they wanted it, they would have done it

    • Ngoni

      Months before the iPad launch when all the rumours were at their highest, several Asian manufactures claimed to have made several hundred 7″ LED screen samples for Apple. But by then pundits such as Rose had already been claiming that the new “iSlate” would have a 9″-10″ screen (depending on whether the quote was in the morning or afternoon)

      These were real screens not mockups.

      For reasons best known only to Jobs’ inner circle Apple went with the 9.7″ screen… and I love mine to bits – I don’t know how useful the 7″ would have been, but I guess I’ll find out when the PlayBook launches.

  • Bull

    Makes sense for them not to release it. Folks would instantly want it at a significant discount because of the smaller screen size. Why cannibalize your sales like that?

    • http://www.webomatica.com/wordpress/ Webomatica

      That might be why the larger iPad was released first. Had it been released along with the 7 inch model, many would have gone with the smaller, presumably cheaper version.

  • Jeff Price

    I never saw the utility in the iPad. I demoed one at Best Buy and thought to myself: “Aside from the distracting name, and large screen, the iPad is a giant iPod Touch. My Netbook and iPod Touch will suit me just fine”

    • Kevin

      It’s funny you mentioned that, because I’ve always been a BMW kind of guy, and I never liked Audi designs. Yet I see hundreds of Audis on the road, so I guess people are buying Audis, and Audi is bringing in revenue, and Audi continues to sell cars.

      A product that I personally do not like, yet somehow still makes money by selling to people other than me. How magical is that???

    • kibbles

      yeah. my wife wanted a pool in the backyard and i told her the same — “We already have a bathtub, how’s that any different?”

    • http://www.chazlarson.com Chaz Larson

      “Distracting name”? What does that mean? Are you talking about “iPad” up in the corner?

  • Cossmo

    “The iPad is the one of the best selling devices in history. Why would Apple need to release a smaller version to compete in a market it owns. It doesn’t.”

    I think I recall that the iPod was very successful and Apple did quite well in introducing two smaller units, one for photos and now there’s basically 4 models if you include the iPhone. Why NOT release a smaller version? Makes sense to me.

    • http://www.copythotic.com.au Orthotics Brisbane

      Tell that to the Mercedes A class. Anyone who was desperate to have an iPod has got one already. Time to mop up the price point shoppers.

  • Jo

    “the 9.7-inch model has a higher density screen than its smaller counterpart”

    Hi Jim. Don’t you mean lower DENSITY, specially if its the same resolution.

    • YoctoYotta

      Yeah, a smaller screen would have a higher pixel density unless they went with a drastically lower resolution for some bizarre reason. Even 800×600 at 7 inches is 142ppi, versus the current iPad’s 131ppi.

  • WMP

    They already have released a smaller version. It’s called the iPod Touch.

    • Mister Snitch

      That porridge was too hot. And the other porridge was too cold. Time to try the porridge that’s just right.

    • Pat

      You can’t easily read on a Touch, but you could on a 7 inch device. And the current iPad is too big and heavy. A 7 inch version would be between the Touch and current iPad, and IMO, the perfect size. In fact, that’s why I am waiting to purchase one. The current size is too big.

  • http://tunegardener.net Jason Painter

    I think they would have done a lot of research on sizes and settled on 9.7″, so I can see them having developed a 7″ in testing only. I think they got the size right. I use it everyday and would not like a smaller one. In my opinion, it’s the correct size. It’s small compared to a laptop and big compared to a phone. If you want something smaller then you want it in your hand. An iPhone and iPad combination is hard to beat.

    I use an iPad every day in place of a laptop and feel the above strongly as a result of experience.

    Another factor: the landscape keyboard is very usable. It would not be typable at 7″ but would still be hard to use with two hands in landscape.

  • http://www.rampantspeculation.wordpress.com Conrad

    @Cossmo

    Seriously? Do the Nano, Classic, or Shuffle run apps? Cause I’m pretty sure iPhone and iPod Touch screen sizes have always been the same. That’s why older non-RD-enabled apps can run swimmingly alongside current RD-enabled apps.

    And even if the resolution and aspect ratio of the fictitious new iPad remained the same the UI would need an overhaul since 40-something percent of the screen is now missing. And some UI buttons are pretty small on the iPad. See James’ response above.

  • Charles

    James hit the nail on the head. iPad apps won’t run well on a smaller screen. All the buttons you press will become smaller and harder to hit. Text becomes too tiny. You are basically asking developers to make three separate versions of their apps now. I’m not saying it’s insurmountable. As James says until the rumors start accounting for how Apple will deal with it, it’s just blowing smoke. This is one case where a 7″ iPad doesn’t make technical sense.

    Cossmo, Apple could release different versions of the iPod because they wrote the software on it and could change it whenever and however they wanted. Once you open it to developers you can’t change the system as much/as quickly. The two product lines are very different.

    • Mister Snitch

      “You are basically asking developers to make three separate versions of their apps now.”

      You are basically creating an opportunity for a developer to sell three separate versions of the same product.

  • Derek

    They have three laptop sizes; why not different ipad sizes?

    • http://www.sustworks.com Peter

      >Why not release a 7-inch iPad?

      Because Apple believes the 9.7-inch iPad is the best size for its intended use. The iPad is a comfortable size for reading. The responsive touch interface, clever use of panning+zooming, and focus on one task at a time makes the device almost disappear as you become absorbed in the flow of what you are doing. The landscape keyboard is good enough for lightweight typing. The 10 hour battery life is nearly double most notebooks. The bag-able size just feels right, and fits comfortably with a compact Bluetooth keyboard.

      Here’s a bold observation: Apple thought long and hard about the 9.7 inch form factor. Other vendors who choose to release a 5-inch or 7-inch iPad like tablet are probably making a mistake.

      • Marcelo Ramires

        Just as much thought as they’ve put into the new antenna system..

        I’m aware it turned out not to be a big deal, but it happened, and was part of the new astonishing features that the amazing engineers have thought, and that would set a new mark on the mobile industry..

        Just because one company invested into researching to create a new standard, doesn’t mean it IS a new standard..

        Other companies releasing different size devices = not wrong Apple releasing a different size iPad = may not occur, but not wrong.

  • bertybassett

    come on how long were the press saying iphone nano and that never appeared. There is no ipad 7″ because it messes with the apps.

    Now Apple TV apps is were the real news is. Bet Steve turns this on when googleTV gets released.

  • WMP

    It’s a great question and it serves to highlight why Apple created iOS, rather than using Mac OS X to work with the touch screen interface. It’s a topic that could easily be the subject of an article or two all by itself.

    There are two issues as I see it.

    First, it’s not like having different monitor sizes on the Mac. Any differences in pixel density (pixels per inch) between monitors are minimal, and a window can change size to fit radically different monitor sizes.

    The iOS devices work with a fixed “window” size where each “window” takes up the entire monitor. But between current iOS devices that window can vary by up to 100% both in pixel density and total number of pixels, horizontally and vertically. With a current iPad app and the smaller physical size of the screen of the mythical 7″ iPad, keeping pixel density the same, interface elements would remain the correct size, but you would truncate part of the layout. So that option is out. Increasing pixel density so the same number of pixels would fit the smaller display would shrink interface elements, and that gets to the second part of the problem.

    A touch interface is much coarser than mouse/cursor, so any significant change in pixel density can have a dramatic impact on the usability of the application. The point of interaction in a mouse/cursor interface could be as small as one pixel. The smallest point of interaction in a touch interface is the size of your finger tip. That is an issue when you would be trying to target interface elements that the program designer had intended would be about 40% larger on screen.

  • Martin

    Apple doesn’t do ‘because we can’. If they did, there’d be 50 different iPhone models all catering to each carrier like every other handset maker does.

    Apple has been successful in these spaces because they make economy of scale work – one Apple design gets 10x the attention that the competing devices do, because Apple releases 1/10th as many devices. The manufacturing, stocking, shipping costs are all lower. Apple simply dominates the supply chain for their products because they can commit to orders of millions of screens, controllers, batteries, etc. Everyone else is worried about supply chain problems and even pushing products back because of it – this is the power of volume for Apple.

    Would consumers prefer more choice here? Sure. Some. But does that choice help Apple move their platform forward? No. Choice makes it harder for app developers. Harder for case suppliers. Harder for speaker and dock makers. If you’re a case manufacturer, are you going to make a case for a form factor that you know will sell 75 million units before it’s replaced with a new design in a year, or one that will sell maybe 5 million units before it’s replaced with a new design in a month or two?

    These things matter, and they benefit consumers as well. Apple will release a 7″ iPad when they need to replace a 7″ iPad.

  • WMP

    /RANT MODE ON

    Apart from the technical issue of making current iPad apps work on a 7″ screen, Apple worked for several years to to be able to build and sell a 10″ iPad at the price they do. Do you not think they considered other sizes? They have incredible in-house prototyping equipment. You can be sure they didn’t just try designing other sizes, or making mockups, they built them. They knew how they would feel to hold, how it would be to view photos and video, and anything else they envisioned. They explored at what point it is it worth carrying something bigger than an iPhone. They explored how small you can go and have someone not miss their laptop. They looked at how big a battery would be able to go with each different screen size. They did not just jump at the first size that came along.

    Think of what the expectations were for price before the iPad was launched. How much time did it take Apple to get to the point where they could sell an iPad for $500? Could their competitors get to market, in a timely manner, a price competitive product the same size with the markup that they need? If they could, given the success of the current iPad, wouldn’t they?

    Now this is not to say that Apple will never introduce a 7″ iPad, but they are doing to need a lot better reason than just that everybody else is doing it.

    /RANT MODE OFF

    Remember, it doesn’t matter to Apple what you want. What matters is what several million people want. Does apple see 20 million people who won’t buy the current iPad but would if it had a 7″ inch screen?

    • http://www.relentlessfocus.tumblr.com relentlessFocus

      @WMP you nailed it.

  • AlfieJr

    the 7″ form factor is a dead end. too big for your pocket (so get an iPod touch), too small for anything/anytime that size matters – which is a lot of stuff and a lot of circumstances. ain’t gonna happen with Apple. all these rumors are junk.

    also, the Android 7″ tabs are going with a 16:9 screen aspect. so they have less than 1/2 the iPad’s total screen area, but cost about the same. that aspect is good for video/movies, but lousy for web pages and books. add this all up, they’re not gonna be popular.

    Apple TV will need 16:9 apps too, although to start the iPad’s “HD” 4:3 apps will work ok with it on your HDTV. whereas the much lower resolution 3:2 iPhone apps really can’t.

  • Jim

    I don’t see Apple releasing a 7″ iPad, it would fill no void. The iPod Touch and the current iPad are doing just fine. Apple does not put out products just for the sake of putting out a product. I haven’t read to many articles complaining the iPad was too big, actually, I haven’t read any.

  • Alex

    Apple released the iPod mini and iPod nano into a market it owned. People said the same thing: “why would they release a product and cannibalize sales?”

    Well, now Apple dominates the music player market. So the whole “why compete” thing is out–Apple’s done it before.

  • Mister Snitch

    “the 9.7-inch model has a higher density screen than its smaller counterpart.”

    Pardon me, but don’t you have that backwards? The smaller model is rumored to have a ‘Retina’ display. That pixel density cannot (yet) be achieved on the larger model.

  • Andy

    It doesn’t surprise me that Apple has developed different sizes and configurations of the ipad before releasing the final version to the market. From a product development standpoint, it makes sense, however if you look at their product trends, Apple always aim to introduce products that will retain and increase their market share. When Apple launched the ipod, they spun the ipod form and functional attributes to 3 different flavors. iPod (i.e. 8g,16g and 32g), Nano and Shuffle were design to accommodate customer needs and retain market share. It won’t surprise me that eventually Apple will release the 7″ iPad, due to two major factors customer needs/ requirements and competitive pricing. Once other competitors release their products (i.e. Playbook), the current iPad configuration maybe over-shadowed by the user need for smaller and light products. Don’t believe me,….look at ipod touch, iphone, macbook pro, macbook air, ..etc. The user needs and wants are for every changing and a smaller ipad release to market is inevitable.

  • David W.

    Let’s take a look at Apple’s ware via pricing…

    • iPod Touch 8Gb: $229
    • iPod Touch 16Gb: $299
    • iPod Touch 32Gb: $399
    • iPad 8Gb: $499
    • iPad 16Gb: $599
    • iPad 32Gb: $699

    Where would a 7″ iPad fit? How much cheaper a 7″ model would be than the 9″ model? If it isn’t more than say $50 to $100 cheaper, people would rather just get the 9″ model. If it is cheaper than that, people will get the 7″ model instead of the iPod Touch.

  • odysseus

    “They have pretty much the same specs, except, of course, the 9.7-inch model has a higher density screen than its smaller counterpart.

    Don’t you mean that the 9.7″ model has a higher resolution screen? Or if the 9.7″ and 7″ models had the same resolution, wouldn’t the 7″ model have a higher density screen?

  • Derrick

    One MAIN point that everyone is missing, is the price point! How much would sell the 7″ for? Keeping in mind the high end iPod Touch (64gb) is $399 while the low end iPad “9.7 is $499.

    What will the following 7″ iPad cost? 16gb – $399? 32gb – $499? 64gb – $599?

    • Oluseyi

      $449 for the low-end 7″ iPad (8 Gb). The prices will overlap the upscale version some, such that the highest-end 7″ iPad (64 Gb, probably) would cost about $549 at most.

  • RC Copeland

    FOLD IT IN HALF!!

    I said it all in my article: iPad: Do They Really Get It? (Full article)

    http://bit.ly/bhhcf2

    MacDailyNews reprint:

    http://bit.ly/cmXiFF

  • brian gillespie

    Been saying it since before we knew the iPad would be 10 inches; it makes perfect sense that Apple would build a 7 inch iPod Touch and a 10 iPad computer. Something for everyone, except the competitors.

    Think about it – use the same pixel count as you would on the iPhone, and with the larger form factor the screen would be economical enough to build a product to fill the price gap between the iPad and iPod Touch.

  • zisel

    I personally would like a 7 inch Ipad. I think the Ipad is slightly too big and think the Ipod touch is too small. I think a half way point is a good idea. Especially if it costs less. But, in other side, the big screen ipad help me enjoy my videos on ipad. I am sticking with my iPad with so many vidoes. When I back home, I would watching all kinds of videos with my boyfriend. I think others will do the same once they try it and realize it is the perfect personal computer :-) So, I prefer the big screen ipad. By the way, To watch all kinds of videos and movies on ipad, we should thanks be to God, ahaa, just a joke. we should thanks to iFunia. this third party supplies the best ipad video converter so that we can save all kinds of vidoes on ipad.

  • Sean

    I’ll buy one with my iPhone nano.

  • Kirk

    Is there a source for this pronouncement?

  • Ben

    Yes I think there is a case to be made for a smaller iPad. The 9.7″ format is slightly on the heavy side but even more importantly requires a separate bag to be carried. I wish there were a form factor that easily fits into my (men’s) jacket or into a women’s purse. Not as small as a touch where my aging eyes have to squint to make out small text, and which doesn’t “fill” my jacket inside pocket. My guess is a 5 – 6″ format strikes the right balance between readability and portability.

  • http://www.ifunia.weebly.com stonee

    The first version of ipad is little bigger than I wanted, and 7-inch is good. I have supposed to watch video anywhere with ipad, but I’m feeling unconvenience, beacuase of the big multi-touch screen and video limits, the next problem can be solved by video converter like ifunia just as zisel said, the first one is impossible. So, 7-inch ipad is a cute thing, isn’t it?

  • Mister Snitch

    I quite agree with Ben and stonee. Also, note that Apple maintains several variations of most products it carries, except the AppleTV. There’s no reason to believe they would carry ONLY one size iPad much longer, especially since it has been so successful.

  • Robb

    Truly, the reason Apple doesn’t have a 7″ inch iPad is because a 7″ tablet is STUPID. A touchscreen iPod Touch is a mobile device that fits in your pocket. The iPhone4 is a mobile device that fits in your pocket and makes phone calls on a cellular network. An iPad is a tablet with enough screen rela estate that make it excellent as an eReader, magazine and full page document viewer, a portable DV player, a sketchpad, a great photo gallery viewer, and on an on… but a 7″ tablet neither fits in your pocket nor has the screen real estate to make it the right format, size and dimension for viewing documents, publications and multimedia. Dell does stupid and fails. Microsoft does stupid hardware and fails. Eken, Marvel, ZTE, Augen and other Chinese knockoffs do stupid and they fail. Apple doesn’t do stupid hardware that fails the user experience. It has to make sense from a consumer design and use perspective and Apple gets it while most of the other companies try to play to win marketshare or undercut price or reverse engineer or clone other peoples success.

  • Rose

    Yes but for those who want it more for reading the 7″ is a much friendlier size. If they released the 7″ they would be competing with the eReaders and would probably sell to a broader market.

    I for one would buy a 7″ rather than an eReader.

    • Robb

      Huh? One of the major problems with the Kindle as an eReader, for owners and publishers of books, picture books, magazines and periodicals was that screen-size was so small (as is the 7-inch screen) that a person is severely limited in what they can fit and read on that too small format. “Friendlier size” ?? I don’t get it. It’s not friendly in that it doesn’t display printed, digital, multimedia and color content as well as on the iPad. The reason Jeff Bezos gave for the small, black and white, poorly illuminated Kindle was not that it is “friendlier” but that he could maximize battery life. The irony of these new 7-inch Windows 7 tablets coming onto the market (most of it is vapor-hardware that is “announced” as coming soon but nobody has one or can buy one until well into 2011 if not 2012) is that they have 2.5 and 3 hour battery life. Somehow this makes them “enterprise” tablets instead of quality consumer “I gotta have it” devices.

      The iPad is selling to a broader market. iPad is one of the most quickly assimilated and purchased computing devices in history. It’s selling faster than even the iPhone did when it first came out. A 7-inch eReader appeals to a broader market? I don’t think so.

  • http://www.sustworks.com Peter

    I think a 7-inch versus 9.7-inch tablet is targeting a different class of applications and mobile use experiences.

    The open question is whether a 7-inch tablet can achieve the level of disruptive sales we’re seeing for iPad (over a million a month and still growing). That seems unlikely, but it’s too early to tell. iPad fans who have been using one for a while recognize it is establishing a new vocabulary of mobile computing. There are things the iPad does better than any desktop computer or smartphone, and it quickly absorbs previously untapped opportunities to leverage your time and attention. The iPad is more than a bigger smartphone or smaller laptop. It represents a new solution category. In my view, 7-inch tablets will be hard pressed to provide some of these solutions, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be “successful” on their own terms.