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Why Apple Should Consider a Seven-inch iPad

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Updated. Research In Motion (s RIMM), Samsung and Viewsonic are all hoping to cash in on the tablet computer market with seven-inch devices. We’re sure to see more similarly sized gadgets int he next several months as a crush of new models come to market.

Update: But where is Apple? That’s what I’ve been wondering ever since Steve Jobs went on a bit of a rant last month during an earnings call, saying a seven-inch tablet “is meaningless” without sandpaper “so that the user can sand down their fingers to about one-quarter of their present size.” I understand Jobs’ point — to a degree — but as I discuss in detail over at GigaOM Pro (subscription required), there are some compelling reasons for Apple to consider such a device.

Low production costs and Apple’s strategy of “incremental.” Apple reportedly developed a seven-inch iPad as it built the 9.7-inch version that’s currently on the market, so a smaller iPad would enable Apple to fill in the void between its iPod touch and the current full-sized tablet without spending a fortune in development.

Increasing competition, increasing variety. With dozens of tablets set to launch over the next couple of quarters, users will have a wide variety of sizes, features and operating systems to choose from. A seven-inch iPad could appeal to road warriors and casual users alike, and could crush competing devices before they have a chance to gain any momentum.

More portability. The current iPad is the perfect coffee-table tablet and is ideal for watching video, browsing the web or passing back and forth to play Scrabble. But its size and weight make it cumbersome on the go.

The apps. It’s true that some iPad apps take full advantage of the great real estate, and many enterprise/productivity apps are much easier to use on the bigger screen. But many of the top iPad apps are simply blown-up versions of their iPhone counterparts and would operate fine on a smaller screen

As I said a few weeks ago, there’s little evidence that anyone else can put much of a dent in iPad sales anytime soon. But there could be a substantial market for a tablet that sacrifices some features and functionality in exchange for more portability. Apple would be wise to reconsider the chance to tap it.

Read the full post here.

Image courtesy of Flickr user henribergius.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

25 Responses to “Why Apple Should Consider a Seven-inch iPad”

  1. Ipodtouchindia

    Apple would fill the gap but AFTER everyone has had a go and AFTER a lot of consumers have burned their fingers on those attempts. IMO, Apple would come up with a 3DS type device with the two screens ON THE OUTSIDE and call it the iPeel . It would allow iPod like functionality when folded and iPad like functionality when unfolded.

  2. Hey, I have an iPad and think its too heavy for one handed use. And yes a smaller device would be easier to thumb type on. But this is not a good article. Work a little harder next time.

  3. If I can use my iPod Touch and use an iPad, I could certainly use a device in-between.

    I really wish the iPad were a little smaller. I leave a touch lying around the house because the iPhone is on a charger, but a iPad is just a little too big (and pricey) for what I want. Besides, there’s a laptop right over there..


  4. @Colin Gibbs
    “diatribe |ˈdīəˌtrÄ«b|
    a forceful and bitter verbal attack against someone or something ”

    “Diatribe” is YOUR word as well as “rant”.
    I do not believe that Steve Jobs “DISCOURSE” fits the description of either of YOUR words. YOU are the one trying to change the description of Steve Jobs “DISCOURSE” into negative commentary to try to demonize him. GET REAL AND GET AN EDUCATION OR PRESENT HONEST COMMENTARY.
    verb |disˈkôrs| [ intrans. ]
    speak or write authoritatively about a topic

  5. Laughing_Boy48

    People were using netbooks to take on the road and now somehow the iPad is too bulky to carry around. What a lame excuse. Let’s see how many of those 7″ tablets sit on store shelves and gather dust because the average consumer finds they prefer the larger display of the iPad. The only reason those copycat tablet vendors aren’t using larger displays is because they couldn’t get their hands on enough larger displays for higher product quantities. And a larger display would probably have driven the price up higher than the iPad thanks to Apple ordering batches of millions of display components.

    Those wannabe companies that lust after Apple’s tablet market share are going to be in for a shock when Apple comes out with the iPad 2.0 with all the ports, dual cameras and a 9.7″ display for the same price as those smaller tablets. Those 7″ tablet upstarts are just too damn cocky for my taste. Swearing that they’ll crush Apple and the iPad after putting just two solid months of thought into their measly tablet offerings. They haven’t sold one freaking tablet and they think they know everything about consumers and tablet sales.

    These are the same companies that swore to their mother that the $250 netbook would be the savior of mobile computing. The netbook is the crappiest mobile platform in the world being originally built for the poverty-stricken masses in third-world nations. These cloner companies need to get a serious clue about running a successful business.

    The 7″ Android tablets aren’t even running a proper tablet OS because Google said Honeycomb would properly support tablets and they should wait for that. How stupid is a tablet vendor that can’t even follow Google’s recommendation. Instead, the greedy Android tablet vendors said to hell with the stupid consumer, just give them any old crap.

  6. It wasn’t a rant. Get over that. A 7 inch ipad would be a stupid idea. The only reason the poor cpies of the ipad are 7-inch is because it’s the only way they can get anywhere nears Apples cost or make current versions of Android work albeit poorly.

  7. Why do you call Steve Jobs perfectly honest critiques of some competitors products a “rant” when they aren’t?
    His comments DO NOT fit any of the following definitions of “rant”. YOU NEED TO GET SOME EDUCATION AS YOU ARE A MORON.
    rant |rant|
    verb [ intrans. ]
    speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way : she was still ranting on about the unfairness of it all.
    a spell of ranting; a tirade : his rants against organized religion.
    rant and rave shout and complain angrily and at length.
    ranter noun
    rantingly adverb
    ORIGIN late 16th cent. (in the sense [behave in a boisterous way] ): from Dutch ranten ‘talk nonsense, rave.’

    • Colin Gibbs

      Another definition of “rant”: loud, declamatory, or extravagant speech; bombast.

      I’d say Jobs’ diatribe (defined as “a prolonged discourse,” among other things) fits that bill. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an honest critique of the competition.

  8. You people, yes I said it, you people do not understand Apple at all! Why don’t you just close down the Apple blog and write uninformed, misleading articles about Microsoft or Google instead. I want to like this site but when every other article has false or misleading information you make it extremely hard.

  9. This is what’s known as a Toyota solution in the automobile business. Keep looking for niches you haven’t covered, that one or more competitors offer, calculate minimum sales needed to break even – and forget altogether about cannibalizing your own sales with extra sku’s.

  10. Increasing variety? No frakkin way. All Steve Jobs does is decreasing variety to narrow both their and thercustomers’ focus. Laser sharp focus on what’s not just good but really, really perfect.

    And that means trying and rejecting some really great options who’s only fault is not being perfect.

    Like a 7″ iPad which wouldn’t have become their backdoor to the throne of The New Home Computing.

  11. Jahan Khan Rashid

    I Agrre with the article, i had a go on the galaxy tab today and ordered one these were the deciding factors:
    A: i found it very very easy to touch type in portrait mode.
    B: it felt much lighter than the ipad for holding up for long lengths of time.
    C: Expandable memory
    D: Seemed a perfect fit for me in every way and is much more portable than the ipad.

    Dont get me wrong, nothing touches the ipad in a lot of areas and its a brilliant device but its much too big for me and i am still waiting for apple to adopt a 16:9 ratio for entertainment!!

  12. First things first – Apple isn’t about to come out with a 7″ iPad. No reason to. At least for now….


    “Steve isn’t one to change his mind when he has proclaimed how things will be publicly.”

    You mean like when he said there would never be a video iPod? Or when he proclaimed that the iPhone SDK was HTML and JavaScript?

    I’m guessing it’ll be around 2012 when they announce a 7″ iPad coming out in April 2012. Maybe 2013 instead. But 2011? No – they need to move developers over to creating apps for the Mac and Apple TV first. ;-)

  13. Ted Cranmore

    I’m going to disagree with you on this one too. The statement, “its size and weight make it cumbersome on the go”. That’s completely untrue — unless you’re looking for something that fits in your pocket. If that is it, the iPhone is what you’re looking for as the 7″ device is still too big. The 7″ size might fit in a single hand easier, but does not have any distinct advantage in overall portability. You’re right Apple could make one cheaper, but given the cost today of the other 7″ tablets, they have no reason to fill that slot. The only people who will be buying a 7″ pad instead of a 10″ iPad are those that are in the anti-Apple crowd. And guess what? Those folks aren’t going to buy a 7″ iPad either.

    Apple spent a long time with the iPad in the labs, they didn’t decide on the 10″ version simply to ship a bigger box and have a higher BOM, they did it because this is the size that was needed to make a great product.

    I understand why the other vendors are primarily targeting 7″. They need the cost savings to have any chance against the iPad and will even use the size as salesman drivel on differentiation. Heck, 7″ sounds like 70% of the size, and not like the actually less than 50% size.

    My only worry on the 10″ is how much it will cost to produce a Retina display version. Costly yes, but it will be a beauty to behold.

  14. Matt Liotta

    It won’t happen. Steve isn’t one to change his mind when he has proclaimed how things will be publicly.

    I remember all the articles about Apple needing to get into netbooks. Steve said no, but people kept talking about it. Then of course, Apple released the iPad. Who thinks Apple needs a netbook now?

  15. Mark Hernandez

    There is no reason to subscribe to and go to GigaOM Pro to learn more about your flawed reasoning for a 7″ iPad when it’s possible to understand this situation for free from people like John Gruber, Steve Jobs, Daniel Eran Dilger and others.

    Apple has said that a smaller form factor does not work interactively.

    Also, why would Apple make their developers to redo all their work for another form factor when it offers dubious benefit and thereby fragment their efforts? Apple isn’t benefiting any by having two form-factors and developers would be pissed.

    Apple already charges less for the 10″ iPad than others can for their 7″ so no benefit there.

    It is NOT as you say… “iPad apps are just blown-up versions of their iPhone counterparts.” That’s a blatantly deceptive comment and you know it.

    I would expect an article like this coming from Darrell, but you too?

    There are more compelling reasons to NOT support an 7″ iPad, and you aren’t helping here. I feel so dirty leaving this comment like I’ve been used for a pageview. Eeeuuuch. I need a shower.

    Mark Hernandez
    The Information Workshop

    • gamblor77

      Hah..such a pathetic fanboy. I like how you didn’t even mention the last paragraph where it says:
      “But there could be a substantial market for a tablet that sacrifices some features and functionality in exchange for more portability.”
      I find this statement VERY ironic considering a 4.3″ Evo has MANY more things that the iPad doesn’t and its 1/4 the size. Don’t u think crApple could squeeze more technology into unit that’s SO much bigger, such as: 1) Flash support, 2) Dual camera with flash and HD video recording, HDMI out, 3) effing ***USB PORT***, 4) GPS, 5) FM Radio Etc. Etc. Etc…the list goes on. So do I think a 7″ tablet can “maybe” be acceptable as a portable unit? I have to say HELL YA! Oh and the iPad is $800+ for the “fully” functioning version so I don’t know which more expensive, smaller tablets you’re talking about. For $800 I’ll buy a REAL tablet and have a fully functioning computer with real games and not just an exploded version of angry turds.

    • Colin Gibbs

      “Apple has said that a smaller form factor does not work interactively.”

      I’m not sure what you’re saying, Mark, but are you suggesting that the iPhone (or my HTC Incredible, or plenty of other handsets) do not “work interactively?” When it comes to size, it’s all a matter of degrees, and there’s a constant trade-off between real estate and interactive functionality.

      For what it’s worth, I love my iPad, and I love many of the apps it runs. But there’s no question that many of those apps are nothing more than iPhone apps on steroids. And they would perform just fine on a smaller device.