The 7-inch iPad

Steve Jobs was quoted as saying that the 7-inch iPad was too small. While the technologies that would allow such a device have changed in the last couple of years, the reasons Apple would release it haven’t.

The reason that most people bring up regarding the release of a 7-inch iPad is the Kindle Fire. Analysts and media types insist that Apple needs to bring a smaller tablet to market to ward off the threat from Amazon.

There are a couple of things to consider with this argument. First, people that use that as the basis for the release of a 7-inch iPad are full of shit. Second, using that argument shows they don’t understand Apple and how the company works.

Apple will not respond to a competitor by releasing a product that they don’t feel is ready to be sold or will not make a significant impact in the industry. The Kindle Fire, while a decent seller for Amazon, is not a competitor to the iPad.

People do not go out and look at an iPad and then decide to get a Kindle Fire, knowing they can get the same experience. The Fire and the iPad serve different markets.

I believe that Apple’s had a 7-inch iPad for a while now, so they could have released it at any time, but they didn’t because it wasn’t the product they envisioned.

In the years since the original iPad was released, chips have become smaller, wireless technologies are better, retina displays have been introduced, and Apple has a better idea of how people use the device. This is crucial information to have when making product decisions.

The 10-inch iPad was the perfect size with the technologies and market data Apple had available at the time. The fact is, it’s still the perfect size.

A 7-inch iPad is only a sign that Apple is filling out its product strategy, not that its strategy has changed. The company does have a history of doing this very thing with its products.

Let’s take the original iPod. Looking at it now, it was big. However, at the time, with the technology available to them, Apple released what they felt was the best product they could make.

Then Apple came out with the iPod mini, which later became the iPod nano, capturing another segment of the market. That release was followed up by the iPod shuffle, again capturing another segment of the market.

It was changes in technologies that allowed these products to be released, but I believe Apple had planned the releases all along.

When you look at a 7-inch iPad, or any other Apple product, don’t look at how it affects its competitors, but rather how it fits into Apple’s product strategy. Doing that will make things a lot clearer.



  • http://www.techhog.com/ Michael T. Blake

    Couldn’t agree more.

  • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

    “I believe that Apple’s had a 7-inch iPad for a while now, so they could have released it at any time, but they didn’t because it wasn’t the product they envisioned.”

    You could stop the post right there. When Jobs made his comment about the 7-inch, I believe that was based on his experience using a 7-inch iPad.

    • http://www.loopinsight.com Jim Dalrymple

      Yep

    • orthorim

      Of course it was. Apple probably had iPad prototypes in its labs for the better part of 10 years. In all sorts of sizes.

      I am sure they also have a 5″ phablet, and a 4.5″ iPhone, and, and and… 

      I don’t think they’ll do a 7″ iPad, personally. I find 9.7″ as it is borderline & almost too small.

      • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

        10 years is a huge stretch, seeing as they weren’t working on the iPad in ’02, but I’m sure they do have multiple sizes but, as Jim said, based on their plans not based on what competitors are doing.

        • orthorim

          I’d bet good money they had tablets in the labs in ’02, actually. Bill Gates declared tablets the future of computing in … 1999? Something like that. 

          Clearly the technology to make an iPad as it was released in 2010 only really became available around that time. 

          I was an intern at Apple ATG in 1997 – when Steve came back and when things were not yet super locked down – stuff in the labs was amazing. None of the things I saw ever turned into a product. But it was Sci-Fi stuff.The thing that truly stunned me – remember this was in 1997!! – was a microchip with a 640×480 LCD on it. About the size of a coin, It was well beyond 300 dpi. They had a retina display in the lab in 1997.

          • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

            At that time it would have been a MacBook as that’s what a tablet was back then [a full desktop OS].

            But I’m basing it on Apple saying when they started the iPad, not assuming.

          • Engineer

            Everything Apple has said supports the perception that the iPad was an active project in 2002.  Probably started in mid 2001 to early 2002 period so a prototype in late 2002 sounds right.

            Remember, most of what you hear from people about “what apple said” is their ignorant interpretation of what Steve Jobs actually said which was “we started on the iPad before the iPhone” and “we’ve been working on the iPhone for 5 years”.   Well, that means 5 years before 2007 they were working on the iPad. 

          • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

            I definitely could be wrong. My recollection of the statements Apple has made did not indicate an ’02 timeframe. All good though.

        • JohnDoey

          Steve Jobs is on the record: iPad started in 2002. It is 10 years, not just the better part of 10 years. Safari has run in both mouse and touch for its entire 10 year history.

      • JohnDoey

        Not “probably” — that is in the Steve Jobs bio. They made 1 in every conceivable size and used them again and again and the 9-10 inch 4:3 (which is a standard PC screen) won out. That is what apps expect to run on. It’s just barely enough pixels to show a Web page or letter-size PDF. If you look at iPad as a developer, it is the only sensible size because that is a PC screen and iPad is a PC.

        • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

          The only sensible size? Lots of people manage to read on Kindle’s. Lots of people read and run apps and browse on 7″ tablets.

          Hell, lots of people read and run apps and browse on iPhones and the iPod Touch.

        • normm

          I think you’re mixing two things here. There is clearly a minimum number of resolvable pixels needed to run a desktop quality app, but young eyes can deal with that in a small form factor. The biggest constraint on size on touch devices comes from the size of fingers, as Steve also talked about.

    • Fred

      Jobs once said nobody wants to watch video on their iPod, and about two years later there was the Video iPod. The problem is, that they don’t have Apps for a 7″ iPad and it’s a hard thing to convince developers to adjust their Apps for, because the 7″ iPad would be no new additional market but nothing more than serving a niche market with hardly as much customers as the 10″ iPad. With the possibly larger iPhone screen expected in the new future they will find a form factor so that old games will run in their native resolution and Apps that are only displaying content will be adaptable with just a few lines of code, but in my opinion this is nothing near what it would take to get things ready for a smaller sized iPad …

      • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

        They’d probably fly off the shelves. The iPad is a status symbol, at a minimum, and to say “I have an iPad” and to only have spent $250 is a huge draw for consumers. It is a low barrier to entry for the iOS platform.

        Whether they do it or not is on them. I’m with Jim, Apple will do it if they want to.

        The thing about Jobs and the iPod video statement was true when he said it but the market [namely video consumption] changed. Apple simply adjusted to the market but not competitors.

      • FalKirk

        “Jobs once said nobody wants to watch video on their iPod, and about two years later there was the Video iPod.”-Fred

        I hear this argument all the time but it is very much the exception not the rule. The vast majority of things that Jobs said were brutally honest and often prescient. Discarding Jobs’ words, and the logic behind them, just because he didn’t bat 1000 is as foolish as tossing out the baby with the bathwater.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gturn-Turn/100002855245582 Gturn Turn

        A 7″ iPad with the same resolution as the iPad 2 would not require any changes by the developers and would have a greater pixel density  than the iPad 2. 

        And the rumors about a change in aspect ratio on the new iPhone would create a lot of problems, much more than re-sizing a screen with the same ratio. You could re-size an iPhone with no changes by developers if you keep the same resolution and just scale it up.  You would have lesser pixel density but no problems for Apps. 

        See the difference.

        • Steven Fisher

          Of course it would require changes! iPad GUI elements are carefully sized to be easy to touch with your finger. Shrink the iPad by increasing the pixel density, and we’d all have to update our apps to use larger controls on a 7″ iPad.

          • Michael Scrip

            Actually… if you use the iPad’s touch-targets as a baseline… some of the iPhone’s touch-targets are actually smaller

            But others are nearly the same size so it wouldn’t be that different if they were a little smaller on a smaller iPad.

            Needless to say… if Apple wanted to make a 7″ iPad… they would spend lots of time figuring all this out to make a great experience on each of their screen sizes.

            http://i.imgur.com/P72Ul.jpg

      • JohnDoey

        That is a ridiculous anti-Jobs talking point that’s not even true.

        In 2003 or 2004, Jobs said that nobody wants to watch “movies” on a 2-inch iPod screen. By 2005, the ARM processor in iPod had a built-in video decoder in it and so it could play movies, and NOBODY WATCHED MOVIES ON IT. Apple sold music videos out of iTunes Store for that device. Hardly anybody even did that.

        iPod video was the equivalent of Enhanced CD, which is a music CD with 9 songs and 1 music video.

        It wasn’t until iPhone that people started watching video on a handheld screen in any significant way at all, because the screen is 2x iPod video and is just barely big enough for TV and movies. I can remember buying iTunes movies on my original iPhone in 2007 and later watching those movies on a TV and they were 480p — iPhone-size. Even in 2007, Apple was not selling TV-size movies yet. There was no video revolution on the 2-inch screen. The iPhone was the first iPod made for TV/movies.

      • lucascott

        “Jobs once said nobody wants to watch video on their iPod”

        Another comment taken out of context, just like the whole ‘Steve hates styluses’

        at the time that he said it, the screens were crap,which is why he said no one wanted to watch video on those screens. 

        two years later the screens were much better. And yet even then how long before they yanked video out of those same iPods because there was a better choice and folks were taking it en masse

    • Player_16

      A 7″ iPad? Fail. That 7″ is a good tool size. IF the rumours are correct and with the various set-top box makers coming out, chances are Apple would like to improve on what it already has. He said a couple of years ago (D8), the one big thing with ‘TV’ is getting it to market. An Apple made telly just can’t happen due to getting it to market.

      Look at Google. Once again, buttons. Xbox remote, buttons. LG remote, buttons.

      If Apple DID acquire 7″ screens, they could improve the remote on the AppleTV without incorporating huge amounts of power (A4, smaller battery). Even still, this ‘remote’ could be reprogrammed with the appropriate apps to transmit to the various tellies and set-tops around the world both infra-red, wi-fi, voice. iPad, iPod, iPhone is fine but limited. It’s a dumb pad that will only function with your telly, surround, set-top, etc. incapable of doing anything else (example, games). What’s on telly without turning ON the telly because it’s was previously stored thru your provider. One control to rule them all for a nothing price. 

      Another Nest thermostat.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goL0v-gEE4I

      But hey, it’s only an idea.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/CO36G2RP7H3Q43ZWVK4IQAQLAM Ronald

    While I personally wouldn’t want one, I definitely think there is a market for a 7″ iPad. For people who just want to read and write emails, read books, look at videos, and surf the internet, a light-weight 7″ tablet that can be held with one hand is very convenient.

    If Apple doesn’t satisfy this market, someone else will.

    Personally, I don’t think that Apple is scared of the Kindle Fire, but is more worried about giving Windows tablets a maket segment to go after uncontested.

    Besides being light-weight and more portable, being cheaper is also a big deal as tablets become even more mainstream.

    • http://bradmccarty.me Brad – The Next Web

      “If Apple doesn’t satisfy this market, someone else will.” — The problem with that line of thinking is that nobody is going to do it with iOS if it isn’t Apple. 

      Right now, the market is saturated with 7-inch tablets. Most of them run Android. None of them are overly successful. The Fire is doing OK, but not great.

      I actually like the form-factor of 7-inch tablets. The problem is that nobody’s made one that runs software I’d want to use. Maybe Windows Phone devices would be the exception to that. WP is a very good OS, but still crippled by a lack of apps. 

      I think Apple will eventually release a 7-inch iSomething, but even if it doesn’t, nobody’s going to satisfy the market for a 7-inch iOS device. 

      • JohnDoey

        The reason there is no software for 7-inch tablets is because there have never been 7-inch graphical computers. THERE ARE NO APPS. iOS or Android is irrelevant. A 7-inch tablet is a half a PC screen.

        • Mac apps are 9-10 inch layouts in a floating window • Windows apps are 9-10 inch layouts in a floating window • iPad apps are a 9-10 inch layout full-screen • console games are a 9-10 inch layout stretched to whatever size your TV is • Web apps are a 9-10 inch layout in a floating window

        … there are no other apps except 3-4 inch widget/phone/pocket apps.

        Unless you can figure out a way to hire the millions of user interface designers who created all of the world’s 9-10 inch and 3-4 inch app views and get them all to do 7-inch remixes, you will not be running any useful software on a half-size PC screen any time soon. Even if you had the $3 trillion, those user interface designers are all busy working on Retina versions of their full-size 9-10 inch views and pocket 3-4 inch views, which are much less work than creating a freaky 7-inch view that nobody ever planned for.

        The reason people buy Apple products is because they are USEFUL. The products Apple does not sell are not useful. Fantasizing that an Apple version of a not-useful product would somehow be useful is an old game. It would not. Fantasizing it would sell like the useful products is also a waste of time.

    • FalKirk

      “I definitely think there is a market for a 7″ iPad.”-Ronald

      There’s a market for a lot of things. Apple could have made a dozen different varieties of the iPhone and many of them would have sold quite well. But that’s not how Apple rolls.

      Asking whether there is a market for something is the wrong question and it’s going to lead you to the wrong answer. Asking whether a 7 inch iPad will provide a better user experience than a 10 inch iPad is a better question.

      • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

        “Asking whether there is a market for something is the wrong question and it’s going to lead you to the wrong answer. Asking whether a 7 inch iPad will provide a better user experience than a 10 inch iPad is a better question.”

        There’s little doubt that user experience on a 7″ iPad would be inferior to that of a “full-size” 10″ iPad.

        Then again, I could say the same thing about the user experience of an 11″ MacBook Air verses that of a 15″ MacBook Pro. But some people make that choice daily, sacrificing a measure of usability on the alter of portability.

        So a better question would be, “Is there a set of users for whom a 7″ iPad would be a better solution?”

        And asked that way, I think the question answers itself.

        • FalKirk

          “Is there a set of users for whom a 7″ iPad would be a better solution?”-Michael Long

          Of course there is a set of users for whom a 7″ iPad would be a better solution but, again, it’s a poor question. There’s a set of users for most any product and some of those sets are quite large – but that doesn’t mean that Apple is going to make such a product.

          Interesting that you should choose to compare the 11″ MacBook Air and the 15″ MacBook Pro. I think that Apple is asking (or has already asked and answered) a lot of hard questions about the MacBook Pro line too.

          • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

            I’ve said it again and again. Apple knows that it’s better to cannibalize your own sales than to let someone else do it for you.

            The iPod mini cannibalized the sales of the iPod. The nano cannibalized the sales of the mini. The shuffle cannibalized the sales of the nano.

            The iPhone cannibalized all of them.

            A less expensive 7″ iPad would take the rest of the wind out of the Kindle, smack the 7″ Androids, give Apple a cheaper entry into the education market, and, as pointed out, probably be a better fit for a significantly sized market.

            We’ll see soon enough.

            And the MBP? 13″ is gone. 15″ will be Air’ified. 17″ will either go the Air route or be dropped altogether.

          • FalKirk

            “Apple knows that it’s better to cannibalize your own sales than to let someone else do it for you.”

            Agreed.

            But I still don’t think we’ll see a 7″ iPad. The nano was better than the mini. The 7″ tablet is not better than the 10″ tablet. It’s a compromise. The only purpose for a 7″ tablet would be a reduction in price (and margin). Lower price is not a feature. It’s a deathtrap.

            If you can show me that the 7″ iPad, like the nano, will add value to the consumer that the 10″ iPad cannot, then I’ll change my position.

          • Fanfoot

            Agree completely.  The people who suggest the iPad is the one and only “true size” somehow ignore the fact that Apple makes laptops is multiple sizes, makes iPods in multiple variants (likely too many honestly), etc.  If there is a market that would be better served with a 7.x” iPad and Apple can make GOOD MONEY (like 50% margins) selling one then they’ll do it. 

        • JohnDoey

          No, you can’t say the same thing about a 7-inch iPad versus 10-inch as an 11-inch Mac versus 15 because on the Mac, apps run inside virtual screens (windows) so a 15-inch Mac simply shows a larger number of virtual screens at once than an 11-inch Mac. And the virtual screens are resizable. On iPad, you run one app full-screen. So the correct analogy to the Mac would be if I were to resize all your Mac windows to their minimum size and then drag the windows offscreen so that only 46% of each was showing (7-inch iPad would have 46% of the screen of 10-inch iPad.)

          Also, the iPad screen is also the keyboard. So compared to the Mac, you are not only cutting off 54% of each app’s window, you have also removed 54% of the user’s keyboard. Not helping!

          • Player_16

            You’ve just described a netbook. 

          • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

            iMove. iPhoto. Photoshop. Dreamweaver. Aperture. Garageband. Final Cut. InDesign. Illustrator. Premiere. Logic Pro. 

            I could go on, but the point is that these are full-screen applications. When run, they’re typically run at the maximum size possible. Heck, many of them even support multiple monitors.

            Full-screen support is prevalent it’s even baked into the OS and into every app and into Mission Control.

            So your point that “every” application is just an 11″ window is somewhat disingenuous. Buy a smaller computer, and you have less room for content.

            That said, many people CHOOSE to buy a smaller computer. For them, portability and transportability is their primary concern.

            And the same applies to iPads.

          • Fanfoot

            Good points all.  I don’t think Michael is open to changing his mind though.

            Of course a small computer is a compromise.  Anybody who can’t admit that just has blinders on.  The keyboard is worse.  The screen is smaller.  The text and icons are smaller.  But hey you know what?  Its lighter and easier to pack and lasts longer on a charge and … oh wait, all of those things would be true of a 7.85″ iPad too…

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gturn-Turn/100002855245582 Gturn Turn

      I think a 7″ iPad would do extremely well in the education market especially in the K-6 grades.  Those kids have much smaller hands and the same Apps on a smaller screen would not be a problem.

      Kindle Fire is a joke, it is nothing more that a Amazon web page on a tablet with a few Apps to go along with it.

      • JohnDoey

        Kids are real people and need real PC’s. Graphical PC’s have been around for 30 years. Smallest screen ever is 9 inches — the original Mac. Anything less cannot run PC apps.

        • lucascott

          the iPad is NOT a computer so that it can’t run PC apps is moot. 

          also the notion that kids NEED a real computer is an opinion that hasn’t really been proven. The various reports of schools being thrilled with their iPad testing etc in fact would seem to refute your opinion 

    • JohnDoey

      You can’t do any of those things with a half an iPad. They require a whole iPad.

      There are mini email clients that run at 3-4 inches and there are full-size email clients that run at 9-10 inches. Pick one. Same with all other apps. If you have a 7-inch screen (46% of the area of a 10-inch screen) you have to run the 3-4 inch apps at 2x size. Therefore you might as well get an iPod touch. Which is what people are doing.

      • Fanfoot

        Wow, so I guess I better stop using my iPhone for half the things I use it for then.

        The keyboard will be too small?  I think the keyboard on the iPhone is easier to use than the one on the iPad. 

        Most of the apps I use on my iPhone and iPad are APPS.  They work great for the size of screen they were built for.  They have little to nothing to do with what my Thunderbird or Outlook client looks like on the desktop.  I think you’re fighting the wrong war.

    • Player_16

      Windows tablets? Apple’s not worried about those either. By the time a Windows tablet v1 comes on the scene, there’ll be iPad 4′s. Dell is gearing up for W8 but that might come out in late October. Dell’s tablet may come out in December… for xmas! (There’s always CES.)

      “If Apple doesn’t satisfy this market, someone else will.”

      This market is already satisfied with a big, fat ?. It’s too casual. Look at Android. Loads of 7″s: loads of ?, loads of fail. Cisco just bailed with their 7″. There is no user experience. 

      You hear what MS wants to do with Metro/W8; combine the 2. Imagine moving open windows, poking and typing on a 7″ tablet. Fail. When articles waffle on about W8 beta gonnas, I don’t waste my time reading: it’s an experiment, it’s not out so what’s the point. If MS wants the 7″ market, they can have it.

      There is no market for a ‘carry around, in your man-bag/purse/cargo-pants, light-weight, car dash sat-nav sized, portable 7″ tablet’. 

  • http://streakmachine.com/ Robert Falck

    I know I sound like a broken record, but I always like to bring up the one little fact that so many people love to ignore. Apple sells the iPad in I don’t know how many different countries. Amazon currently sells the Kindle Fire in one…

    Yup. They sure need to stop that Fire before it spreads and ruins the whole iPad business.

  • Buckeyestar

    Did I miss something? This entire commentary seems to be assuming that a 7″ iPad is coming or has already been announced. I’d love to have one and am hoping it does come to pass.

    • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

      Nah, the blogosphere is running rampant with posts about a 7″ iPad. Jim’s just putting his perspective out there.

      You know Apple won’t let it slip if they are. lol.

  • http://twitter.com/totalipad Christopher Rizzo

    There is iPad then there is every other tablet. I think those that want a smaller iPad are probably non-iPad owners. A 7″ iPad is no more comfortable to hold than a 9.7″ iPad and it does not fit in your pocket comfortably as some people will have you believe! Don’t believe me? Try walking around with a DVD case in your pants pocket and let me know how comfortable that is.

    I wish Apple would make a bigger iPad and smaller iPhone!

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/CO36G2RP7H3Q43ZWVK4IQAQLAM Ronald

      A 7″ iPad would definitely not be portable like a phone where it can be put in your pocket, but I do think it would be more comfortable to hold than a 9.7″ iPad. The surface area of a 7″ iPad is about half of the 9.7″ iPad, so theoretically it should be about half the weight. With a non-retina display and a power efficient processor, they could probably make it even less than half the weight which is a big deal.

      As far as a bigger iPad goes, I would LOVE to have one, but unfortunately I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

      • bregalad

        The Kindle Fire is heavy enough that you might as well be holding an iPad and getting double the screen size and apps that take advantage of the extra space.

        As noted the Fire and the other 7″ tablets are too big to fit in pockets, even jacket pockets so they’re not “go everywhere” devices. The solution for those who want more screen size in a truly portable device is to buy one of the latest generation of 4.65″+ Android phones from Samsung or HTC. If you’re looking for an iOS device in that size range you’re out of luck.If you need more screen than an iPad offers then you’ll probably benefit from a real keyboard too. Apple makes just such a device called the MacBook Air.

        • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/CO36G2RP7H3Q43ZWVK4IQAQLAM Ronald

          The Kindle Fire may be heavy, but I don’t think that Apple will try to copy it. I often read books on my iPad while lying down, but it gets heavy after a while. A half-weight iPad would be a big improvement.

          As far as the bigger iPad goes, I don’t want a MacBook Air nor a keyboard … I like the form factor and interface of the iPad much better. I don’t think there is much of a market for bigger iPads right now, so I don’t expect this to happen.

          However, I do think there is a market for a smaller, lighter, and cheaper iPad.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gturn-Turn/100002855245582 Gturn Turn

          A 7″ iPad with Apples Aspect Ratio would be much larger than a Kindle fire because the fire has a much taller, narrower Aspect Ratio.

          A new iPad has a lot more screen surface than a 10″ Samsung tablet for the same reason.

          Don’t you remember the old 17″ monitors with the former Aspect Ratio, they were big screens.  Then they came out with the 16×9 ratio monitors and a 17″ 16×9 monitor is tiny even though it is a little bit wider. To get the same height of the old 17″ monitors you have to go to about 24″ with a 16×9 ratio.

    • eblack

      Hi! Multiple-launch-day-iPad-owner here.

      I would absolutely buy a 7″ iPad.  I owned an original Galaxy Tab for awhile, and the form factor was perfect for reading and portability.  Of course the OS and battery life were crap so I sold it.  I think 9.7″ was a great compromise between size and portability, and perfect for the first few tablet offerings from Apple.  But the more I use it, the more it feels either too small (doing work) or too big (reading books).  I would carry a 7″ iPad with me everywhere (it is a pocketable size, depending on what you’re wearing).

      Conversely, I would use the hell out of a 17″ iPad at home.

  • kvanh

    The Kindle Fire was designed to compete with the iPad. The smaller size both to keep costs down and provide a point of distinction. Based on sales of the iPad Apple doesn’t need to compete with the Fire but the Fire still needs to compete with the iPad.

    If the Fire ever sells enough to actually provide competition with the iPad, Apple will be able to pull a 7″ tablet out of its pocket (HA!) and immediately start competing. That ain’t today.

    • lucascott

      and now there are rumors they are going to make a 10 inch model to really compete with the iPad. 

      which makes way more sense than the rumors that Apple is making a  7inch model to compete with a device they are already outselling

  • kvanh

    That market hasn’t proved itself to exist yet despite several devices available in that form factor. Even if the existing devices are selling well they aren’t pulling in iPad money.

    Apple is treating 7″ tablets exactly like they did netbooks and rightly so. There were few people that bought a second netbook after their first and despite every tech blog in the world screaming about how huge a market this would be it was fizzling even before the iPad came out.

    As for competing with Windows tablets, Apple doesn’t announce products hoping to compete against something that doesn’t exist yet. The last round of Windows tablets was announced in anticipation of the iPad (they even try to co-opt the then rumored iTablet name) and that didn’t work out so well.

    Prove Windows is acceptable in a 7″ form factor, and will sell, then Apple might enter such a market.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/CO36G2RP7H3Q43ZWVK4IQAQLAM Ronald

      The 7″ tablets aren’t selling that well, but I’m not convinced that indicates there is no market for them. The non-iPad 10″ tablets are not selling very well either.

      Besides, I don’t think that it is Apple’s mode of operation to wait for a competing product to occupy a category and then pull one out to compete.

      The question is whether or not a 7″ iPad would be useful to people, and I think it would.

  • http://ulfklose.de Ulf

    I’ve got a 7″ Android tablet for testing purposes. And I really don’t like it. It’s simply to small and the choice of the manufacturer to use a 16:9 display wasn’t a good one. Landscape mode is ok, but portrait mode doesn’t work at all. Even if there was a 7″ iPad, I wouldn’t buy one. Maybe with a Retina display, but with the low-res display I have here it really isn’t comfortable to work with.

  • orthorim

    +1

    I don’t know what it is but analysts and bloggers and even journalists keep forgetting what both Tim Cook and Jon Ive say at pretty much every opportunity: If it’s not better, we won’t make it. If it’s not great, we won’t make it. If it’s not significant… we won’t make it. Therefore whatever Amazon, Samsung, or Google are doing has very little impact on what Apple will do. 

    The product strategy is only the best, only a few, and only the most worthy products will be produced. Different from most other companies, but they seem to be doing all right…

  • http://twitter.com/AdamBacsalmasi AdamBacsalmasi

    Am I the only one that thinks Apple will release a larger iPad? I can see a more professional type of iPad, maybe 15 inches, that allows for precise stylus interactions for drawing, or more aperture like photo apps. There’s lots of chatter about being able to “work” on an iPad, but a larger version would definitely allow that.

    • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

      Probably. 9.7″ then you go to 11 and that’s an Air.

      • Joesbusiness

        “These go to 11… they’re one louder.”

        • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

          Huh?

          • http://twitter.com/handleym99 Maynard Handley

            It’s a reference to a very funny scene in the very funny movie This is Spinal Tap. Well worth seeing.

          • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

            :) Will have to check it out.

          • Petermillard1

            I’m self-employed and recently started using my iPad for all my invoicing (QuickSale – great app) and would love a 13″ iPad – think 13″ MacBook Pro screen, but a bit thicker. Let me use my Magic TrackPad as well as my Bluetooth keyboard, and I’d pay MacBook Pro money for this, happily.

          • lucascott

            if you are just going to use a trackpad and keyboard then why do you need a TOUCHscreen device. buy a MBP

      • http://twitter.com/handleym99 Maynard Handley

        An iPad has no keyboard, an MBA has a keyboard.  This might sound obvious, but it apparently needs to be said. 

        There is clearly scope for a device that performs the role of iPad — easy to read without a keyboard getting in the way — in a larger screen. To say that laptops fulfill that role is ridiculous. (And I say this as someone who has both an iPad and MBA, and who uses each extensively — but uses each for what it is good at.)

        More relevant, I think, are issues like: how much such a device would cost, how large would the market for it it be, and how do we, as easily as possible, get software up and running for it.  (The easy answer is just scale up everything, so the DPI is, whatever, 220dpi instead 260 or whatever the numbers are. That changes the size of touch zones and icons and so on. On the other hand, maybe that’s good — maybe one primary market for such a device will be precisely people with poor eyesight or hand co-ordination, aged and disabled people, who like the iPad right now, but struggle with some details of it?)

        Point is — I think such a device does make sense in the grand scheme of things, but there are economic and technical/programming reasons why it will take some time for Apple to figure out how best to provide it. 

        • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

          I hear you just highly doubt it. The iPad is in its own market and going 11″ would cause people to think “why iPad when I can get an Air” or vice versa. I doubt they’d make a product that marginalizes one of their own unless it was an obvious iteration [ie - iPhone vs iPod with a phone, as was originally tested].

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marcus-R-Moore/676140569 Marcus R. Moore

      I think the only way that a touch-screen iMac makes sense is if it’s essentially a digital drafting table.  Right now, Wacom owns this market with their Cintiq lineup.

      But with the MacPro seemingly dancing on the edge of a knife, it would seem very improbably that Apple would produce a product like this which would likewise have a relatively narrow target market (artists/engineers).

      Unless touch is integral to where Apple see the “non-iPad” computer market eventually going, I think a giant iPad will remain the dream of a relative few, like the MacProMini.

    • FalKirk

      “Am I the only one that thinks Apple will release a larger iPad?”

      Yes.

      Just kidding.

      But seriously, yes, yes you are.

    • lucascott

      I think at some point in the future (say 7-8 years down the road) when the tech exists and is price right for a tablet to be powerful enough to replace a computer for all basic and most mid level consumer needs then yes we might see a larger iPad. 

      As for the ‘work’ comment. A lot of us are doing that just fine with our 10 inches. 

  • Daryl Thachuk

    People buy the Kindle because it is cheap, not because of its 7″ form factor

    • lucascott

      i wonder how many have returned it within two weeks also. Especially during that no parental restrictions, doesn’t even ask for your password, doesn’t work if you log out, period. 

  • ScooterComputer

    7 inch will be a gift to the OEM market. We’ll see it when Apple decides to enter, or is cajoled, into that market. Service industry. Waiters, UPS guy, shelf-stockers. The 10″ iPad is too big; iPod Touch too small. Keep in mind this had been a fairly big market for the Newton as well. But Apple is going to have to -decide- they want to play in that market, it isn’t a consumer-facing one (much like Enterprise). However there is a LOT of demand there (go price Symbol devices).

    • lucascott

      Waiters etc have little issue at the moment with that 10 inch iPad. And Apple isn’t likely to ever deal OEM when it comes to hardware. That’s a world that takes control away from them. They don’t like to lose even a little control because that means they have to support things they didn’t set up which is a nightmare. 

      Oh and about that Symbol devices comment. You are talking about the company (now I believe owned by Motorola) that makes hand held bar code scanners and such right? Same thing that Apple did with a custom cradle for their iPod touches using a custom app for the POS system. Or is there another company you are referring to. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeraimee Jeraimee Hughes

    I especially like how the title is a statement of fact, in the middle there’s a rumor statement then at the end there’s a couple more statements of fact.

    Are you a rumor “me too”er or are you “reporting”?

    • His Shadow

      What you are looking for is “opinion”.

  • http://backtype.com/alwillis Albert Willis

    You know Jim, you really have to stop these logical, common sense posts. I mean, you’re making way too much sense here.

    I often say the same thing when I’m at user group meetings and someone starts saying that Apple has to respond to something a competitor is doing.

  • http://twitter.com/Techslacker Jim Huls

    Of course this isn’t how Apple “works”.

    People are missing part of the story though when they talk about this. 

    What do we have to base this on?

    The iPod and iPhone to some extent. That’s it! That’s hardly a resume to make solid statements about because it’s not enough to call a trend to represent the company’s decisions.

    What you really need to look at is that in each case Apple came into these markets under the radar with a very solid product that was well thought out even if not perfect. When this happens in any product field, the market then reacts so that they can get in on the money.

    The catch is that it takes time for competitors to field products that are “close enough” so that the sales curve is more in their favor. So while Apple and it’s fans might be saying it’s on Apple’s schedule which it is, it’s still very much based on the competition as well as filling a new segment.

    Competition is very much a reason for the way Apple operates but it’s sexier to not mention that part of it.

    Now as for the 7″ tablet rumors…I’m going to go out on a limb and say that it’s going to happen. Not so much because of Amazon though but Windows 8 and Amazon. Apple has been very good at preventing individual companies from establishing much of a base. Samsung is really the only company who has withstood Apple’s strategies but look at the resources they have. With MS and the clones on their way Apple is likely looking to dampen their impact with Windows 8 by hitting a key market which is the smaller tablet segment. Ladies in particular want it. I know several who bought iPads who would have bought a smaller iPad that could fit in their purse and I know several who didn’t buy iPads because Apple didn’t offer a unit that fit in their purse. Maybe Apple should have just sold fashionably large purses that could hold an iPad but they didn’t. lol

    At any rate Apple is driven by competition just like any other successful company. The catch here is that Apple is in attack mode in their strategy rather than the reactive wait and see mode. They’ve already planned on what the competition will bring and when.

  • Markj

    I think where a small iPad would fit is in my jacket pocket or my girlfriend’s purse, and it would be enjoyably bigger than my iPhone. It would also be a great upgrade from an ipod touch for games & other media. That’s the market for a smaller iPad.

  • Obsidian71

    The press says a lot of stupid stuff that causes me to hit the back button. If you want me to come by your site and make your advertisers happy at least try to drum up actual insight rather than blather on the same guesses the rest of the unimaginative press has hopped on. 

    Whether or not a smaller iPad is going to be delivered is anyone’s guess.   There is no right size for a tablet.   We may all talk about what is right for “us” but that’s got bupkiss to do with my neighbor’s needs or anyone else. 

    Luckily Apple has built in a rapidly growing cloud infrastructure and supporting software that will make it easier to add more OS X or iOS devices to their collection.    Just looking at the Apple page for Mountain Lion shows that setting up new devices going forward should be as simple as an iCloud login.  

    I expect iCloud Fireworks at WWDC and perhaps more info on how feasible a iPad mini will be from a software standpoint.  

  • crustyjusty

    My sense about a smaller iPad is that it has to solve a unique set of issues that the 10″ doesn’t solve.  

    With the iPods, the hard drive version could store your whole collection. The flash versions (Nano, etc.) provided varying degrees of mobility and durability that the original version couldn’t, etc. 

    And I think price is just the result of trade-offs that occurred in the design of the product.

    When I think about a smaller iPad, I agree with Jim in that I think it has to solve a problem that the large one does not.  Maybe it’s your media jukebox, because it has 1TB in storage.  Your super-iPod.  Maybe it has a Thunderbolt connection so that it becomes your media half-way house while you’re on the go.  Maybe it comes with a subscription model that allows you to stream all the books and movies you want.  

    Who knows.  But a slightly smaller version of the same iPad with all of the same features doesn’t really solve a problem in the way that the iPod line does. 

    It’ll be interesting to see how they expand the product line.

  • Kevin Crossman

    The rumors have put the size at 7.86″ – which seem more like an “8 inch” iPad to me (given the current model that is 9.7″ being referenced as a “10 inch” model). 8 vs. 7 seems like a difference compared to the tinier Fire and  others.

  • http://twitter.com/kstagg Kevin Stagg

    I really think it is about “price” regarding the 7″ argument. While the Kindle Fire may fill some peoples’ needs, it is still a crippled device compared to a full-featured android tablet. The latter can do everything the Fire can do and more, including playing Amazon apps and reading Amazon books and using Amazon Cloud.

    Google is looking like it will be announcing a $200-$250 7″ Android tablet at their I/O conference, and which will be sold at their online store. This will not only take away even more sales from the Kindle Fire camp, but will take a percentabe of sales from Apple. Admittedly, I don’t believe these sales to cause perspiration on the collective brow at Cupertino anytime soon.

    However, if Apple were to release the “nano” of the iPads. That is to say, perhaps a 7″ form factor of the iPad but maybe with a slightly slower processor and maybe at around $300 or less? Kind of like when the Air came out for Apple’s laptops.You had the Macbook Pros and you had the Macbook Airs which were even more high-dollar. The same strategy could be applied to the iPads. They would all look the same, but different specs and different price-points.

    I think that not only will this be an “entry” into the higher-level market of iPads but will also further crush the competition into the market by Android (sadly) and Windows 8 coming in the Fall.

  • His Shadow

    In the years since the original iPad was released… Apple has a better idea of how people use the device. This is crucial information to have when making product decisions.

    There is an excellent point in here about Apple’s competition. Apple famously doesn’t use focus groups or product demos. The competition routinely uses focus groups and product demos, as well as public concept videos and polling to decide on what products to make and what features may be included.

    Yet Apple’s products always seem (with few exceptions) to be feature compete and usable right out the box with minimal effort. And the competition like LG or Samsung shits out dozens of variations of hardware as if they view the market as one massive beta test and the consumers as product testers. And even then, rather than polishing their offerings, they jump to the next technology (OLED) or spec (4G) in some cases before the feature is useful (4G without wide network support, OLED with terrible color saturation and ineffectual in direct light).

    The competition is using focus groups and market studies, yet they still littler the landscape with pointlessly differentiated and incompatible versions of the same basic device. Apple releases single devices differentiated only by storage in some cases, and tunes each iteration as technology advances, and as Jim notes, based on real world customer usage. As noted by Gruber, what other company is also confident enough to use their previous top model as the “low end” model next year? Whose business model has been more successful?

    Confidence is all too often misconstrued as arrogance. The most common epithet hurled at Apple and it’s customers is in fact some variation of arrogant or smug or “elitist”. So essentially it’s elitist to choose the best solution for your needs and support a brand that consistently delivers “more bang for the buck”. It’s arrogant of Apple to release the devices and operating systems that they do, because customers are somehow being harmed by having certain feature set and capability decisions even in the face of data that with no uncertainty indicates Apple made the correct decisions. Apple product users are smug for enjoying well made devices that have excellent ROI and get sold into an ecosystem that is second to none.

    Count me as a smug, arrogant elitist, then.

  • JohnDoey

    All of the world’s apps were made for one of 2 window-sizes: 3-4 inch widget/phone app or 9-10 inch full-size PC app. Doesn’t matter whether the window fills the whole screen or not. Go and measure all the apps you can find with a ruler. There are not now and have never been any apps for a half a PC screen like Kindle Fire.

    The first Mac had a 9-inch screen with 2 kinds of apps: full-size 9-inch apps and mini “desk accessory” 3-inch widgets. Those are still the only 2 kinds of graphical computing app. The big ones now run on iPad and the smll ones on iPhone. There are no medium-size apps in-between.

    Same with Web apps. At no time has any Web author considered that a user might have a half a PC screen. The Web was designed for a full-size screen and has adapted partially to a pocket screen via zooming. On a 7-inch screen you still zoom. No point.

    Amazon ordered 5 million Kindle Fire in their first quarter and they have still not sold them. Apple sells more iPod touch than that, and people don’t even bother to count it in iOS unit sales. And, Kindle Fire murdered the eInk Kindles. They are a memory only. It is all apps for Amazon by a year from now.

  • Gromit1704

    A smaller iPad (or a larger iPod Touch) would make sense if its function was aimed at the education market. Apple’s textbook announcement of 12 months ago must be bearing some fruit by now. Imagine a device that came installed with all the schoolbooks a child needs for their age. Apple could bulk sell those to local Governments. And Job’s arguement about a 7 inch not being a good size to use would not apply if it was primarily aimed at students (who have littler hands and fingers). The 10 inch iPad is heavy and bulky to a child. And smaller lighter version would be ideal for them. If adults wanted to use them instead of an Amazon Fire, then that would be a bonus.

    • lucascott

      The textbook announcement was 5 months ago, not 12. And that device has already been imagined. It’s a 10 inch iPad with a mix of publisher created and school created materials put together in the free iBooks Author and iTunes U apps. 

      And a 10 inch ipad is neither too heavy or bulky for a child. Especially when compared to having to lug around textbooks that easily weigh 2-3 times what an iPad does and not only have the same width and height but are 3-4 times as thick. 

    • Player_16

      I read and re-read your 2 comments. All I can come up with was ePad.

      Fail.

  • Gromit1704

    Can you think of a better way of getting into non-Apple owning households than every kid in the land taking an Apple SchoolPad home with them. Just think of the Halo-effect of that. Every adult who has not seen an iPad would be exposed to it (and probably want one).

  • Karl Gretton

    Children. Women. Two years ago, the target audience was neither of these.  But today?  Kids and education are huge spaces for the iPad.

    And we are perhaps not talking 7″ but rather (almost) 8″.  7.85″ may be the perfect size for a child with good eyesight and small fingers.  If it shaves another $100 off the price (since it can remain iPad 2 resolution and use last years now-shrunk SoC package) then it could be incredible.

    I believe that Apple is at the top of its game and that Tim is the perfect guy to blast through any barriers that it might face without the SJ ego.

  • http://www.jlist.com Peter Payne

    True. I used to want a 7″ iPad but I realized it’d just be a lesser gadget. I love using my iPad, especially on business tripe since I live in Japan and use the iPad as my main Internet connectivity device when I’m home in the US.

  • lucascott

    All these claims Apple will forget what Steve said and create a smaller iPad now that he’s dead are bunk. Why? Because they base it on one thing. the need to compete. They think that Apple is scared of things like the Kindle Fire and the Galaxy Note and will have to create a 5-7 Inch iPad model to kill those devices and keep market share. 

    Ignoring that the current iPad is outselling both in terms of market and mind share. We have stories daily about this or that school adopting IPADS. About this or that airline adopting IPADS. Just yesterday there was a story about a major sports reporter drooling over his IPAD and how it makes his job so much easier. 

    If the current ‘big’ model can do that then what does Apple have to fear from those little boy models from other companies. Nothing. As for the whole women don’t like big tablets, that’s just the commenters being sexist and they need to can it. Little kids don’t have to have and probably shouldn’t have something they can carry in their hands because they are more likely to drop it. That too heavy to carry around iPad means they have to put it on a table or sit down and put it on their laps. Way way smarter which is why parents have no issue with that big fat 10 inch iPad. and so on. 

  • Warjon642

    Very well stated and to the point! Totally agree!!

  • Player_16

    “Needless to say… if Apple wanted to make a 7″ iPad… they would spend lots of time figuring all this out to make a great experience on each of their screen sizes.”

    What!! Jobs said over 2 years ago:  “And this size is useless unless you include sandpaper so users can sand their fingers down to a quarter of their size. We’ve done extensive testing and 10 inches is the minimum tablet size.”

    Fail!

    • Michael Scrip

      You realize Apple makes a device MUCH smaller than the iPad already…

      It’s the 3.5″ iPhone. No sandpaper needed.

      While it’s true that iPhone apps and iPad apps have different layouts… a slightly smaller iPad wouldn’t be any more difficult to operate.

      iPad icons are already much larger than iPhone icons… as shown in the picture I posted. A slightly smaller iPad wouldn’t affect icons at all.  And other screen elements wouldn’t suffer too much either if the iPad was smaller.

      We all know Steve Jobs said that people wouldn’t want to watch movies on tiny little screens… and the next iPod have video capabilities.

      Weird…

      • Player_16

        I was quoting what SJ said against your quote. Comparing icons on home screens has nothing to do with the apps. Everything IN a iPad app would shrink to a ¼ of the iPad size: text, pix, links, icons, the lot. Go from 3.5″ to 7″; everything would get blown up, pixelated or washed out. Not a good look.

        Fail!

        To use the current batch of apps (iBook Author, iTunes U), everything would need to be readjusted -yet again- to cater to a 3rd new format: that’s 3 different sizes! – 4 if you include the retina screen. So what happens when the keyboard is called up? ½ your screen is gone. Also 7″ is not ideal for surfing.

        DOA.

        Apple’s tested these “tweeners” and according to them, it does not work. 

        Again, there is no market for a ‘carry around, in your man-bag/purse/cargo-pants, light-weight, car dash sat-nav sized, portable 7″ tablet’. 

  • Bla

    Comparing to the initial iPod seems wrong. They couldn’t make it smaller with that year’s technology. That’s not the case with the iPad. The iPod touch is literally the smallest iPad they could make.

  • Fanfoot

    C’mon, stop being a troll.

    A 7.85 inch iPad (the most commonly rumored size, as discussed everywhere, including here on the Loop) would have a screen 81% the height and width of the current 9.7″ iPad screen.  The point Michael Scrip makes is perfectly valid.  If you need sandpaper to use icons that are 81% the size of current iPad icons, then you’d have serious trouble operating an iPhone.

  • Fanfoot

    Jim,

    Good article.  Certainly if Apple does introduce a 7.85″ iPad at some point, it’ll be because they think it will be a good product.  And will satisfy a significant market.  And make them good money.  Etc.  Certainly as you say it will have little to nothing to do with whether the Kindle Fire is onsale or not.

    I certainly don’t buy into the $200-$250 nonsense that has been posted on iMore recently.  The whole strategy of making the market unprofitable doesn’t sound like Apple at all.  Apple would rather make their money from a small percentage of the market than knock all the competitors out of business.

    Nevertheless I think there is a good case to be made for a 7.85″ iPad.  As others have noted you could do it with the iPad 2 screen resolution so there won’t have to be any app changes.  The icons and such would be perfectly usable.  It would be much lighter, on the order of 14 ounces (based on the about 2/3rds screen area) vs. the current 23.

    Smaller battery.  Faster charge time.  Light weight for easier one handed holding.  More portable–fits in a woman’s purse.  Etc.  Cheaper to build.  Would be sold at a lower price, so would increase the size of the market.  Etc.

    What would Apple sell such a thing for?  Certainly less than the $499 of the current iPad 3.  More than the $199 8GB iPod Touch.  As high as the current $399 iPad 2?  Certainly its possible.  Apple would make more profit at $399 with the 7″ model.  With the newer CPU and so forth so Apple could make the point that its better than the current model.

    Would it be a good product for the education market at those prices?  Not sure.  Certainly there’s something to be said for the larger screen in some of those markets.  But of course there are lots of those markets that are VERY price sensitive, so it would be nice if it were applicable to those markets.  I’m unsure.  Even the 10″ is actually a little small for textbooks, but hey, everything is a compromise.