Photo: Dan Frommer, Business Insider
Steve Jobs once trashed smaller tablets on an Apple’s earnings call, saying, “we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.”But now, Apple is making a smaller tablet, the iPad mini. So, what gives?
On last night’s earnings call, CEO Tim Cook tackled this issue, saying, Jobs was trashing 7-inch tablets, not 7.9-inch tablets.
We would not make one of the 7 inch tablets, we don’t think they are good products, and we would never make one. Not just because it is 7 inches, but for many reasons. One of the reasons, however, is size and so I’m not sure if you saw our keynote, but the difference in just the real estate size between 7.9, almost 8, versus 7 is 35%. And when you look at the usable area, it’s much greater than that. You know, it is from 50% to 67%. And also the iPad Mini has the same number of pixels as iPad 2 does. So you have access to all 275,000 apps, that are in our app store, that have been custom-designed to take advantage of the full canvas.
So, iPad mini is a fantastic product, it is not a compromised product like the 7 inch tablets, it is in a whole different league.
So there, you go.
And, just for old-time’s sake, here’s Jobs’ awesome rant from 2010 on 7-inch tablets:
I’d like to comment on the avalanche of tablets poised to enter the market in the coming months. First, it appears to be just a handful of credible entrants, not exactly an avalanche. Second, almost all of them use seven-inch screens as compared to iPad’s near 10-inch screen. Let’s start there. One naturally thinks that a seven-inch screen would offer 70% of the benefits of a 10-inch screen. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a seven-inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad’s 10-inch screen. You heard me right; just 45% as large
If you take an iPad and hold it upright in portrait view and draw an imaginary horizontal line halfway down the screen, the screens on the seven-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the iPad display. This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion.
Well, one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference. It is meaningless, unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of the present size. Apple’s done extensive user-testing on touch interfaces over many years, and we really understand this stuff. There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touch screen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.
Third, every tablet user is also a smartphone user. No tablet can compete with the mobility of a smartphone, its ease of fitting into your pocket or purse, its unobtrusiveness when used in a crowd. Given that all tablet users will already have a smartphone in their pockets, giving up precious display area to fit a tablet in our pockets is clearly the wrong tradeoff. The seven-inch tablets are tweeners, too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad.
Fourth, almost all of these new tablets use Android software, but even Google is telling the tablet manufacturers not to use their current release, Froyo, for tablets, and to wait for a special tablet release next year. What does it mean when your software suppliers does not (inaudible) to use their software in your tablet? And what does it mean when you ignore them and use it anyway?
Fifth, iPad now has over 35,000 apps on the App Store. This new crop of tablets will have near zero.
And sixth and last, our potential competitors are having a tough time coming close to iPad’s pricing, even with their far smaller, far less expensive screens. The iPad incorporates everything we have learnt about building high value products from iPhones, iPods and Macs. We create our own A4 chip, our own software, our own battery chemistry, our own enclosure, our own everything. And this results in an incredible product at a great price. The proof of this will be in the pricing of our competitor’s products which will likely offer less for more.
These are among the reasons we think the current crop of seven-inch tablets are going to be DOA, Dead on Arrival. Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small and increase the size next year, thereby abandoning both customers and developers who jumped on the seven-inch bandwagon with an orphan product. Sounds like lots of fun ahead.