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.

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19 replies on “Apple CEO Steve Jobs bashes 7 inch tablets”

  1. “anybody surprised to hear Steve Jobs say that a product which Apple doesn’t offer is a crappy product?”Not at all! Then, when Apple “invents” one, it will be *revolutionary*!

  2. “So is anybody really that surprised to hear Jobs say that a product which Apple doesn’t offer is a crappy product?”

    Nope, and frankly I believe 7″ is a much more useful size for my needs.

  3. Also, what about the ergonomic comfort of staring something close to your face? Will it cause more eye fatigue than a computer monitor that may usually be farther away than a tablet. Seems like holding something to close to your face causes your eyes to cross which is supposedly more tiring.

    Perhaps Apple did research on this, and that is why they didn’t go 7″? Jobs may just be keeping this close to his chest. I hesitate to say this, so keep in mind I don’t mean this in a derogatory way, but I assume that most people who like Apple also trust Steve Jobs to tell the truth.

    There’s an interesting article on eye strain and computer monitor viewing distance at Seems the ergonomic info many of us learned isn’t necessarily correct.

    1. Also, the ergonomics of using tablets themselves is just bad. I see people hunched over using their iPads while standing. Their necks are so far bent forward to point where it looks unnatural and painful. The larger the tablet the harder it is to use due to size and weight. I just can’t understand why anyone would want a tablet.

  4. um, first of all the iPad screen is 1024×768, not “1024 x 600” as you write (try a little fact checking next time). which is not “nearly the same” as the iPhone’s 960×640.

    but it is your statement that “Physical size doesn’t really matter as much as screen resolution” that is pure baloney. your fingers, sir, do not scale up and down in their physical size at all, no matter the resolution, as Jobs pointed out. he essentially noted that finger size effectively determines minimum physical sizes for UI buttons etc., so that no matter what more such controls/fields can be presented for an app in easy to use fashion on a larger screen than one half its size, never mind the resolution. that observation of course is kind of a no-brainer. one would think.

    and of course visual size of whatever. i have to hold the iPhone up 6″ from my eyes to use it. but i can use an iPad laying on a table in front of me. which makes it far easier to use for extended periods, which is to say for anything complicated or extensive. of course this physical size difference matters. a 7″ tab has to choose between showing me only half as much content on its screen to work the same, or reduce the size of its images and make me tilt my head down closer to the screen – which is literally a pain in the neck.

    size does matter.

    1. I’ll wait to use a 7″ screen before I judge whether it is a pain in the neck. I’ll primarily use it for browsing the Internet and watching videos, so a 7″ screen won’t matter.

      As for Android apps, they can be built to specify different interfaces for different ppi screens. When the developer of the app notices the buttons get to small on a certain size screen, then they need to adjust the interface (ie drop down list instead of each option being listed individually).

    2. Also, if developers don’t want to recode for newer ppi & screen size combos, they can specify the hardware requirements in there app. That way the app won’t show up in the Google Marketplace for 5-10 tablets.

      Developers will be motivated to correctly specify hardware requirements, which is a simple thing, because they don’t want to hurt that apps rating.

      More info can be found at:

    3. You’re right about the 1024 x 768 thing. I’m just so used to typing the
      other resolution that sometimes it slips out. But my larger point is that
      the ipad OS is basically modeled on the iPhone OS – which is designed for a
      3.5 inch display. Now why exactly does it scale up to 10 inches but not 7?

    4. “um, first of all the iPad screen is 1024×768, not “1024 x 600” as you write (try a little fact checking next time). which is not “nearly the same” as the iPhone’s 960×640.”

      Right, the iPhone 4’s pixel density is higher than the iPad’s!!! Yet no one has any problems using an iPhone!

      Size only matters if it effects usage but the iOS is originally designed to work on a iPhone, which is smaller than any of the tablets being discussed here.

      Ditto for Android, which was also originally made for Smartphones.

      So unless they scale it smaller than a Smartphone then the actual interface should not require grinding down your fingers to fit, since all tablets are larger than Smartphones!

    5. “size does matter”

      To you, it does. To Apple, it doesn’t.

      The iPod nano has a 1.5-inch screen. The iPod/iPhone has a 3.5 inch screen. I’m an idiot, but I’m not so dumb that I believe that Steve thinks a 7 inch device is too small because my fingers are too big.

      If Apple doesn’t want to release a 7 inch screen, it’s because they don’t want to burden the consumer. I mean that in a positive way. I don’t think that a lot of ordinary consumers who walk into their local Apple store can meaningfully differentiate between a 7 inch and a 10 inch slate in terms of what would really work best for them. Most people just don’t have enough experience with slates to know their preferences yet. It would turn into a pretty arbitrary, “best guess” kind of decision, which is a primary source of anxiety for the casual, uneducated consumer. If Apple refuses to release such a device, it’s to keep the decision making easy, which adds value to certain buyers. However, the sub-text to this conversation is that the iPad is falling short of its sales figures, and the second-hand market for these devices is starting to saturate. At the same time, 7 inches appears to be Android’s best hope for success in the pure slate market. Steve’s comments are intended to do little more than drive the market. Those are the actions of a competent CEO, which makes me happy because he’s managing my money.

  5. He’s right..who would hold such a large thing in their pocket

  6. The only way to prove whether Jobs is shitting in his pants or not is to wait a couple more weeks as the SG Tab rolls in to London.

    then Asia where I will be waiting with my check book

  7. I’m hoping reviewers will let us know how close the screen can be from our face before we see start seeing individual pixels.

    It’s sort’ve like how you can get a 65″ HD 1080P television, but if you’re only sitting 5′ away then it’ll be like looking through a screen door. I don’t think many people realize that the size of the television should be based purely on how far away you will be sitting. Of course the resolution of the screen effects that equation, because if you’re sitting 12′ from a 42″ screen then you might as well just get a 720P because you won’t notice the difference of spending more money on a 1080P screen.

    Here’s a chart showing you what I mean:

  8. I’m a Mac user but not an Apple fanboy and I think Jobs had his usual rose-tinted glasses on when he made this comment.
    During my daily train trip to and from work I’ve seen people using their iPads whilst standing and they look awkward; the iPad balanced precariously on one forearm and the other hand smearing fingerprints all over the screen. I compare this to how I hold my Kindle 3 (about the same size as a 7″ tablet) with one hand and can still place my thumb on almost any point on the screen. And because of the smaller screen, and thereby smaller size, the weight is much less than the 680+ gram iPad (the Kindle 3 weighs 240g – the Samsung Galaxy Tab weighs 380g) and that means less pain/strain in your arms. But the real beauty of this size is how much easier it is to carry. Last week I discovered that my Kindle fits neatly into the leg pocket of my cargo pants – I had already found it fitted into the inner pocket of my raincoat – and because it’s so light I barely notice it’s there.
    Of course the fanboys answer to these problems is to spend more money on quirky holding devices and fashionable baggage.

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