There’s definitely a space in the market for 7″ tablets — just like there was for the Newton and is (was?) for netbooks. Tim Bray, who works on Android, wants to see Apple make 7″ tablets, but here’s why it won’t happen. At least not right now.
The first obvious issue is fragmentation. Fragmentation is the idea that the same platform on so many devices means developers have to tweak their apps to run everywhere. A big knock against Android is its fragmentation. Apple‘s iOS basically runs on two types of devices: handhelds (iPhone and iPod Touch) and the iPad. Android runs on countless devices. iOS is actually more fragmented than Apple fans often think — some apps can only run on iPhone 4, or iPod Touch, for example — but that’s all the more reason why Apple is going to need a very good reason to add more fragmentation.
But the bigger issue is one that’s often overlooked: economies of scale. Apple will ship between 30 and 65 million iPads next year. The reason Samsung, RIM and others are coming out with 7″ tablets and HP’s bigger Slate was DOA is not (just) because they believe 7″ is a better customer experience. It’s because they can’t make tablets the size of the iPad that are price competitive.
Right now, only Apple has the scale and pull with suppliers to build a tablet the size of the iPad and sell it for prices starting at $500. That’s a huge differentiator in a market that is sure to be crowded by this time next year. If Apple starts to make a 7″ iPad, it means it has to build less, higher margin 9.7″ iPads, lose some great market differentiation, and take a hit on its new blockbuster product — all of it to go chase Samsung and RIM in a lower margin market?
We can hear Steve Jobs chortling from here.
NOW WATCH: Tech Insider videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.