Stirring up the dust is what tech pundits do, and no one gets more stirred than Apple’s finest. You and me. Remember what Steve Jobs said about the 7-inch tablet size? He called it a dead-on-arrival product.
With the exception of the anemic Amazon Kindle, Jobs appears to have prognosticated correctly. But Jobs is gone and times change. The more I think about it, the more a 7-inch-ish iPad makes a whole lot of sense.
Consider what happened to us with the iPhone. We learned how to navigate a screen of buttons and options with a finger on a device that fit snuggly into the palm of a hand and gave us email and browsing and oh-so-many apps to know and love.
Then, along came the iPad. It was so advanced we already knew how to use it. It was just like a big iPod touch; totally familiar, but with screen real estate to die for. Everyone with a brain loves the iPad (if you don’t, well, the problem is obvious…).
Steve Jobs took great pains to point out the iPad’s product positioning. It fit perfectly between the low end Mac and the iPhone (importantly positioned so we Mac-owning, iPhone-owning Apple customers would line up for an iPad).
Apple’s supply management made it difficult for competitors to buy 10-inch displays, so they were stuck with the smaller version, and, for the most part, they paled in significance (if not sales) to Apple’s version of a tablet.
That was then and this is now. It’s time for Apple to fit another product perfectly between the iPhone and the iPad– a 7-inch iPad. Much bigger than a phone, far more portable than an iPad or Mac, but priced right so we Apple-loving, Kool-Aid drinking customer lemmings can line up to buy one at our nearest Apple shrine.
What could a lower priced, non-Retina display iPad do for the world? Lower price is obvious. Non-Retina display should be obvious, too. The iPad is the Lexus of tablets. A 7-inch iPad would be the Toyota (or, insert your name brand automobile brand here) for the masses.
What does a smaller iPad do for the masses? A lower price point opens up a huge market. Screen resolution and size issues not withstanding, this much bigger iPod touch becomes attractive for children, people on the go, and competes solidly with the Kindle Fire (much more for a little more money) and any other iPad wannabes.
Would a lower priced, 7-inch iPad have a camera? Yes. And a 4G LTE version. And FaceTime. And Skype. And– here it comes– games. Steve Jobs made fun of a 7-inch tablet and all the problems it would cause to our fingers, but that argument never rang true.
We use those same fingers on our iPhones, which are substantially smaller than even a 7-inch iPad. Apple expanded the portable media market by introducing less expensive iPods. Today, you seldom see an iPod Classic (a derivative of the original), because the masses bought the smaller, more portable, yet highly capable models.
That’s the 7-inch iPad. It would do everything the big brother iPad does. Screen real estate would be less. Battery life, also less, but competitive.
We are ready for the 7-inch iPad because Apple has taught us about mobility. I ride the subway nearly every day and wouldn’t think of whipping out an iPad on a longer ride. But a smaller version, with a screen that still dwarfs my iPhone, would be perfect.
The time has come. The market is ready. Buyers are ready.
Now, if Apple could only figure out how to handle the screen resolution so all those iPad apps don’t have to be re-written for a new screen size.