Read this how you will, but during a conference call today Apple CEO basically said tablets with 7 inch displays are a bad idea. He’s indicating that Apple has no plans to launch a 7 inch model, while at the same time taking aim at an army of existing and upcoming 7 inch Android tablets from Samsung, Dell, and others.
There have been rumors for ages that Apple was planning to launch a new 7 inch version of the iPad… but there have also been rumors that Apple considered a 7 inch iPad before launching the 9.7 inch model and decided against it, which would explain why there are some spy shots of smaller iPad floating around even though it hasn’t made it to market.
Jobs says developers need to write new versions of their apps for every screen size, and while Google Android developers already have to accommodate multiple screen sizes, processors, and other variables for different phones, tablets, and other devices, iOS developers really only have to write for the iPhone/iPod touch or the iPad. He says iOS apps aren’t designed to run well on 7 inch screens.
I think that might be a bit of a red herring though, because let’s face it, the iPad can run iPhone apps just fine, and the iPhone 4’s 960 x 640 pixel display is nearly the same resolution as the 1024 x 768 pixel iPad display, even though the screen is physically just a fraction of the size. Physical size doesn’t really matter as much as screen resolution, and you could certainly keep the iPad’s current screen resolution on a smaller, lighter device that’s easier to fit in your bag or your hands.
I suppose you could make the case that the issues is the on-screen keyboard. You can pretty much touch-type with the iPad keyboard on a 10 inch screen. It would be much harder to do that on a 7 inch display. But I think it’s just as likely that Jobs is attacking the 7 inch form factor because that’s the size many manufacturers seem to be bringing Android tablets to market at. By sticking to a 10 inch screen, Apple will help differentiate the iPad from the competition, and by attacking the 7 inch form factor, Jobs is basically calling out Android devices on yet another ground. He’s already spent plenty of time bashing the software experience.
So is anybody really that surprised to hear Steve Jobs say that a product which Apple doesn’t offer (a 7 inch tablet) is a crappy product? That’s the same strategy he’s been taking for years with netbooks and tablets (before the iPad). I’d be more surprised if he praised the 7 inch form factor. Still, his comments are getting a lot of attention. Sorry for contributing to the fuss with this article.