Apple rumors are fun. Apple’s secretive culture often sparks and breeds the development of rumors and many people in the tech journalism industry love to speculate and see how right the mill is every time Apple releases new products. Last minute speculations aside, it’s difficult to crack the Apple rumor nut. However, after slowly and carefully finishing the Steve Jobs Biography, I think I have a decent understanding of where Steve was wanting things with Apple Product Development to go.
I’ve had a couple people come to me over the past couple of weeks and either ask me about or tell me about the rumored 7″ iPad, nicknamed the “iPad Mini,” that Apple is supposedly set to release “soon.” I’ve chuckled a bit at these folks and their immediate response was, “What..? You don’t think they’re going to release it?”
My response has been, “I don’t know.”
Trying to guess what Apple is going to do with their product road map is very much like trying to predict the weather – there’s gonna be some [weather]; and forecasters have a 50-50 chance of being right.
However, you never really know if it’s going to rain or not until you stick your head out the window. In this 2 part series, I’m going to look at two deciding factors related to Apple’s “iPad Mini.” Part 1 will concentrate on Steve Jobs. Part 2 is going to concentrate on Tim Cook. It all comes down to who’s the captain of the ship.
Why Jobs Hated the iPad Mini
It’s a very well-known fact that Steve Jobs thought the iPad’s form-factor was perfect as is. In his estimation, around 10 inches was the right and ideal size for this size computing platform. Netbooks, which the iPad was originally thought to be when Apple was originally developing the iPad, fragment the computing landscape and muck with the ecosystem. As such, you really don’t see a lot of netbooks on the market today. That computing form has really died off. They’re too under powered, and too small to be of any real use.
At 7 inches, an iOS powered tablet sticks itself directly between the 3.7 (let’s call it 4 inches for the sake of argument) iPod Touch and the iPad. Jobs looked at this middle sized form factor and pronounced it a “piece of shit,” because it brought confusion, more than value, to iOS devices. Most people don’t understand why, and it took me to get through the Walter Isaacson biography to really get it myself.
I am almost positive that Apple put a 7″ iPad prototype together. I’m certain that there was likely more than one; and that they got passed around Jobs’ and Jony Ivy’s inner circles. Jobs killed it because it too closely blurred the lines between the 4″ iPod Touch and the 9.7″ iPad.
Ultimately, it would have cannibalized sales of both existing products, without adding any additional value or features. Jobs thought 7 inches was too small of a screen to accommodate a tablet and its use cases (games, movies, etc.) and too big to carry around as an iPod. (Face, it, you’re not going to go jogging with a 7″ device strapped to your arm.) When trying to determine which device to purchase, customers wouldn’t understand the differences between the iPod and the iPad (Mini) at that point, and from what I’ve read in Isaacson’s biography, that drove Steve bonkers.
Come back next time, and I’ll go into the other side of the coin – Tim Cook.