Whenever there have been rumors of iPad mini, there was one thing that always appeared to stand in the way of such a device becoming a reality - Steve Jobs’ take on 7″ tablets. During a quarterly earnings call back in 2010, Jobs said that a 7″ tablet is too small to deliver a satisfactory user experience.
An email thread between Apple execs revealed in the Apple-Samsung trial may offer an explanation to Apple’s apparent change of stand. In the thread, Apple’s VP of Internet Software and Services, Eddy Cue, noted that Jobs seemed receptive to the idea of a 7″ iPad in 2011.
In the email (via CNET), dated January 2011, Cue writes:
Having used a Samsung Galaxy, I tend to agree with many of the comments below (except actually moving off the iPad). I believe there will be a 7″ market and we should do one. I expressed this to Steve several times since Thanksgiving and he seemed very receptive the last time. I found email, books, facebook and video very compelling on a 7″. Web browsing is still definitely the weakest point, but still usable.
The comments Cue refers to are from an article on GigaOm titled “Why I Just Dumped the iPad (Hint: Size Matters).”
Three observations from the email:
- First, the obvious. Steve Jobs did warm up to the idea of a smaller 7″ iPad after downplaying the importance of such devices. Very much in sync with what Tim Cook said about Jobs’ “trait” to quickly change an opinion.
- While many of Apple’s products wouldn’t have been possible had it listened to customers or taken a cue from the market, in this case Cue did take inspiration from an existing product, more specifically Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 7″. Samsung would try to use this to its advantage in the trial.
- Assuming that Apple does release the iPad mini in September and that its development started soon after this email was sent, the company took slightly more than a year and a half to deliver a finished product.
A 7.85″ iPad mini would offer almost 40 percent more screen real estate than other 7″ tablets currently in the market, and would feature the same pixel density as an iPhone 3GS.