The Case Against The iPad Mini

New rumours have surfaced — as they always goddamn seem to between iPad releases — about a new 7.78-inch iPad "Mini" that Apple is planning to release to the market sometime in the next 8-12 months. Here's why all those rumours are stupid.

Ever since there has been an iPad, we've heard these rumours. Leaked screenshots, sources close to the matter, analysts looking for attention and the occasional industry insider have all screamed that an iPad Mini is an inevitability.

Since the release of the 7-inch Nexus 7 from Google and Asus, these rumours have started fresh. Obviously if one company does something, the other has to follow, right? Wrong.

It seems everyone who is flouting these rumours has a very short memory. Steve Jobs during his time at the head of Apple took time on a conference call to address the case for 7-inch tablets.

He spoke clearly and frankly about the Android-based competition, and said that Apple doesn't feel that 7-inches is enough for Apple to work with, simply because it would both be a poor user experience — which to Apple is the Anti-Christ — and it would cannibalise sales of both the 10-inch iPad and the 3.5-inch iPhone 4S.

Here's what he had to say on a conference call during his time at the head of Apple:

Almost all of [the tablets set for release in the coming months] use 7-inch screens. First, it appears to be only a handful of credible entrants and not an avalanche. Second, almost all of them use 7-inch screens as compared to the iPad's 10-inch screen. One naturally thinks that a 7 inch screen would offer 70 per cent of the benefits of a 10 inch screen, but unfortunately, this is far from the truth.

The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a 7 inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad's 10-inch screen. You heard me right, just 45% as large. If you take an iPad and hold it upright in portrait view and draw an imaginary horizontal line halfway down that screen, the screens on 7-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the iPad display. This [7-inch] size isn't sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion.

While one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference, it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user could sand their fingers to around 1/4 of their present size.

Apple has done extensive user testing on touch interfaces over many years, and we understand this stuff. There are clear limits of hour close you can physically place elements on the touchscreen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen is the minimum size required to create meaningful apps for tablets.

Every tablet user is also a smartphone user. No tablet can compete with the mobility of a smartphone. Its ease of fitting into your pocket or purse, its unobtrusiveness when used in a crowd. Given that all tablet users will already have a smartphone in their pockets, giving up precious display area to put a tablet in their pocket is clearly the wrong trade-off.

The seven inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad.

Obviously, Steve Jobs isn't in charge of the company anymore, it's Tim Cook's show. Tim Cook has been seen to do a few things differently than would have been done at Steve Jobs' Apple, but to fundamentally backflip on a three-year old statement from one of the founders of the company saying that this device wouldn't work would be incredible.

It's not completely beyond belief that it would happen given the advances in display technology in the last three years, but Apple isn't a company that gives two shits what its opposition is doing most of the time. It never feels the need to follow in the traditional sense.

Will we see a 7-inch iPad? Not likely.


Comments

    As I've said before, 7 does not equal 7.85.

      "This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen is the MINIMUM size required to create meaningful apps for tablets."

      (Capitalisation is my own emphasis)

        All wrong. Especially "Every tablet user is also a smartphone user." I have an iPad but my phone is a 4-year-old 2G Nokia. It calls itself a "smart phone" but it isn't really one these days.

      Exactly. A 7.85" iPad would offer the same target size as an iPhone so no sand paper needed here.

      Also, citing a 3 year old quote from Steve Jobs who said Apple wouldn't make a video iPod, wouldn't make a phone and that people want keyboards so there will be no tablet from Apple.

      Things change and all companies, including Apple, change their minds.

      Yep - 7.85 works out to be nearly 40% bigger screen size than the 7 inch tablets: http://yfrog.com/z/h36j2np

      And John Gruber's take on the smaller iPad seems to make a lot of sense: http://daringfireball.net/2012/07/this_ipad_mini_thing

        yes, in the case that apple (and doubt they'd change it now, especially for an iPad "mini" ) keeps the 4:3 ratio, but that's the only reason, without that it would be marginally larger.

      I'm talking more about the fact people keep throwing sevens everywhere, when it's closer to 8.

        grr sorry response was meant for 'reads the article'.

        I DID read the article, thankyou very much. Perhaps you could try reading it and the comment before jumping the gun. Only once in the article is 7.85 mentioned, the rest of the time it's 7. Yet we're not discussing a 7" tablet.

          And the iPad currently has a 9.7" display anyway! So why are we discussing a mythical 10" tablet? Assuming the same aspect ratio you work on the squares for comparison:

          7²=49
          7.8²=60.84
          9.7²=94.09
          10²=100

          So it's clear that a 10 inch screen is over twice as big as a 7 incher (actually 49% not the 45% mentioned). But comparing 7.8 to 9.7 and the smaller is 65% the size of the bigger. Still a difference but not as dramatic as in TFA.

          Of course when changing aspect ratio the more widescreen it is the fewer "square inches" you get for the same display size. To calculate that you need to involve Pythagoras and algebra and I'm not in the mood at the moment.

          Apple has shown that it will change its mind, so you can't take something said to be gospel forever.

        Exactly. In fact, it is closer to 8 than an iPad's 9.7" screen is to 10.

    Can't see it happening whilst they're hoovering so much cash out of the 10" space. Sounds like Google and Amazon aren't making much out of the 7" variety at present - and if the Apple App store revenue is anything to go by, the "razors and blades" analogy says therr's not a swag to be made in any "ecosystem" at present.

    If iPad sales started to taper, or the "tweenera

    Can't see it happening whilst they're hoovering so much cash out of the 10" space. Sounds like Google and Amazon aren't making much out of the 7" variety at present - and if the Apple App store revenue is anything to go by, the "razors and blades" analogy says therr's not a swag to be made in any "ecosystem" at present.

    If iPad sales started to taper, or the competitive "tweeners" started to cannabilise iPad sales... Why not. But right now? Nah.

      You're implying Apple tends to release products in response to competitors' popularity? Historically it's the opposite.

        They seem to be writing a new history, though. There's talk of "Apple Glass" (which is similar to Google's eyewear), now the 7" tablet. It's all rumours, of course, but with two products that are strikingly similar to recently-announced products, it's easy to see why people are making the "copying" argument.

        And keep in mind, several others have announced glasses and tablets too, so it's not merely an Apple vs. Google thing (though that is the bulk of it)

        Wasn't it the opposite? apple was second into the personal computing area, their phone come around long after the first phone was invented, the first touch screen phone come out in the 90's, the first phone similar to the iPhone was out in 2002ish and iPhone wasn't around until 2007

          i'm being a little less general than that. All smartphones are capacitive touchscreen now, none were before the iphone. Tablets are the way they are now because of the ipad. I certainly don't claim apple 'invented' any of these things (they're not inventions in and of themselves, for a start) but the fact remains. Also I'm fairly sure the Apple computer was, in fact, first into the personal computing area?

    Quote "This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen is the minimum size required to create meaningful apps for tablets."
    Meaningful app only applies to 10 Inch, you joking. I seen meaningful apps on my Samsung Galaxy SIII. That is not even 5 Inch.
    To me 10 Inch is good, but too bulky to carry around. While 7 Inch is actually a good size for on the move. Plus Gods know how many Ladies lament that they wish Apple produce a 7 Inch pad, so they can fit into their purse.

    Also recently someone told me how popular Samsung 7.7 was among the ladies in Taiwan. So really after Amazon, Samsung & more recently Google Nexus 7. There appears to be a market. Also you must realise Steve Job is now decrease, so he can no longer dictate what can be offer by Apple.

    Note I know least 20 people personally who have Samsung Tab, but if Apple offer a 7 Inch they would buy it.

      "Quote “This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen is the minimum size required to create meaningful apps for tablets.”
      Meaningful app only applies to 10 Inch, you joking. I seen meaningful apps on my Samsung Galaxy SIII. That is not even 5 Inch."

      The point I think Steve was making is specifically 'Tablet Apps' not apps that work on phones and tablets but Apps that are designed for Tablets and only tablets.

      The fact that Android now has an OS layout that is designed for the 7inch form to go with the phone + full 10 inch tablet forms that were on 4.0 shows they have at least considered that side of the argument and addressed it (hopefully quite well).

    Tim Cook has already gone against some of the thigns that Steve Jobs said he or Apple won't ever do. The first biggest one is divends for shreholders. Tim is seriously thinking about making this happen so if that can happen then a 7inch tablet might happen as well. Reported on Giz in the past has also said that the culture at Apple is also changing under Tim Cook's leadership. More suits and less Engineers so anything is possible.

    Let's not forget, Apple has 'Hype' on it's side as well. It hypes up everything that it sells so I'm sure many will say "I want one" or "shut up and take my money" if Apple does iPad 7inches.

    Apple doesn't really need to be in the 7inch tablet space and if they were they may not be able to command the profit margins they do on iPhone and iPad at the moment. 7 inch is a viable table size and makes a far more portable and usable option (its book sized like the Kindles). The Nexus 7 will be the first Tablet I buy for its portability, size and cost. My partner has an iPad (1st gen) and I find it awkward and a little to heavy for extended 1 hand use and its a lot to pay for something that I'd never take out of the house.

    Its interesting that what Jobs was saying about 7" tablets applies, I think, far more to the iPad and other 10" tablets. To me the 7" form factor makes far more sense. I'm sure its no coincidence that its roughly the size of a paperback book, whereas iPad is kind of half-way between a book and a glossy magazine, in a sort of no-man's land form factor.

    And why do tablets all have such enormous bezels? If smartphones can have tiny bezels, why can't tablets? Is it to do with the way they need to be held? Whatever it is, it makes them ugly and impractical.

      I guess the bezel is for your hands when you are holding it. No doubt back when they first came out they didn't have the tech to tell the tablet if it was hand or finger

      Tablets have enormous bezels because they are two handed devices - they need to be held in one hand without disrupting the screen and touched with the other (of course not all the time, but if you are standing this is the default way). Smartphones dont need a bezel because they are one handed devices. It is better for the bezel to be smaller because it means the users thumb can cover more of the screen without having to shuffle their hand (this happens to be why apple does 3.5 inch too, so everyone can use it with one hand easily, not just big handed people)

        They could just have a grip across the bottom, like my ZuneHD. That would be a far better solution than an all-round slab of ugly.

          Your ZuneHD is a fraction of the size of a tablet. Having it rest in the palm of your hand is a lot easier than with a tablet.

    Would 7.85 inches be 50% of the screen area of the ipad....i dont know im asking im too dumb to do the calculations. And lazy

      apparently if you take a screenshot of your ipad in portrait mode, then open the photo and rotate to landscape mode (thus shrinking the image) that's almost exactly the size it would be.

    hi there yeah 7.85 inches the exact size of xbox 720 tablet controler touch screen yes nest gen game consokes game play on tablet controkers

    ", but Apple isn’t a company that gives two shits what its opposition is doing most of the time"... don't make me laugh, it's all the time.
    We all know Apple does give two shits - they watch their compeditors VERY closely, just waiting to sue.....

    I dont see why when your 10" product is flying off the shelf and is the definitive tablet you would lower the entry price. It just does not make sense to me, look at the iPhone scenario; instead of releasing an iPhone nano, (as was touted for ages, ) they instead kept older generations of the device in production and brought the price down. They have already done this with the iPad 2 and I dont see why they won't continue.

    People say that 7/8" is more mobile, but the reality is its not small enough for a pocket which means a bag or backpack and this being the case it makes zero difference if it is a 7/8 or a 10. As a business making use of the iPad for our mobile sales staff, there is no way we could get a meaningful experience on a 7/8" given the real estate you would need for pop up keyboard input.

      That's my argument for not buying a tablet at all - if you have to carry a bag, you may as well take your laptop - but iPad sales tell me its not a valid one. That feeling was reinforced by the dismal failure of the Vaio P-Series, which was very specifically pocket-friendly but no-one at all bought them. Where I think a smaller tablet could have it over a 10" jobbie is that you can hold it far more securely in one hand while you type with the other.

      "I dont see why when your 10″ product is flying off the shelf and is the definitive tablet you would lower the entry price."

      "look at the iPhone scenario; instead of releasing an iPhone nano, (as was touted for ages, ) they instead kept older generations of the device in production and brought the price down."

      Those two points contradict one another. The iPhone was flying off the shelves too but based on your very example, that didn't stop Apple from lowering the entry point.

      Also 7"/8" is more mobile. Maybe it isn't pocket friendly, but when people are talking about mobility being "pocket friendly" is not what everyone wants to achieve. A 13" MBA is more mobile than a 15" MBP, both still would require a bag to easily transport but many people will still opt for the MBA because it is smaller.

      Besides, I think the point of a smaller device isn't so much the smaller profile but a means to enter the market with a cheaper device. Over time maybe the 10" models can be priced considerably lower, but I'm sure they can save a hell of a lot more using a smaller display (which in turn would require a smaller battery) than by simply using the iPad 2 as their low end device.

    A point that seems to be missed... every 7" tablet sold means a 10" iPad that is not sold. The Android crowd doesn't have to make a huge profit out of 7" tablets because, particularly for Google, the point is to prevent Apple from making even more profit and TOTALLY dominating the market.

      No, the point is for each individual manufacturer to make as much money as they can. Why on earth would HTC care about Apples profits before their own? They're all in the market to make a buck, just Google can afford to undercut itself somewhat as can Amazon as they also own the surrounding ecosystem. Asus, HTC, Samsung etc all need to make money from the devices.

    As someone that uses the iPad everyday in my field work I would love the option of a 7.85" iPad. iPad is a very capable creation device. I can't carry my laptop around plant for 8 hours and I can't make hand markups on PDFs on my laptop. Though I carry it in a bag I argue that I would be better off with my laptop. It is not a toy, it is just a different form of computing device that is not necessarily for every person.

    ...And Steve Jobs never changed his mind? He is the same guy that argued that allowing third party apps on the iPhone was a bad idea.

    There are a lot of good reasons why Apple wouldn't release a smaller iPad, but I'm not sure I'd be placing my bets on what Steve Jobs has said a number of years ago. If you buy that, then you may as well rule out the iPhone ever having a display larger than 3.5".

    What a crock - one word. Commute

    Steve Jobs is dead.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now