7″ iPad Rumor Analysis – Part 2: Is the Customer Always Right?

There’s are reasons why Apple hasn’t released the rumored iPad Mini. In part 2 of this 2 part series, I break down the rumors…

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 part 2 of this 2 part series, going to concentrate on Tim Cook. It all comes down to who’s the captain of the ship.

Is the Customer Always Right?
Last week, I talked a bit about why the late Steve Jobs hated the idea of a 7″ iPad. Put succinctly, Jobs felt it confused customers by blurring the lines too much between the iPod Touch and the original, 9.7″ iPad. Customers interested in that device size might be better served with the (we’ll call it) 4″ iPod Touch or by taking the plunge and moving up to the full 9.7″ screen on the iPad.

In a Jobs run Apple, there would be no ’7″ iPad Mini.’ The game totally changes in an Apple run by Tim Cook. Here’s why…

Tim Cook is Apple’s former Chief Operating Officer. As an operations guy, Tim Cook listens to, or is at least accustomed to listening to, the voice of the customer. Customers clearly like the idea of a 7″ iOS tablet. The idea of a lighter smaller iPad, with all of its power and capabilities, appeals to a great many people.

The product confusion issues between an (about) 4″ iPod Touch, 7″ iPad Mini, and the 9.7″ iPad still exist – Is the 7″ iOS device a iPod that’s too big, or an iPad that’s too small..? The question is valid, as the iPod Touch does very well, and the iPad is currently expected to be the king of the “tablet hill” until at least 2016.

Tim Cook is the unknown element here. His good friend and confidante, Steve Jobs was very clear on his 7″ tablet stance – No. However, Tim Cook’s operations background may move him to green light the project; but you have to ask how that will effect Apple’s bottom line (manufacturing and marketing costs vs. potential sales, for example) before you start drooling over the idea of an iPad that you can carry in a jacket pocket.

I’ve been wrong before, but at the end of the day, I still don’t think we’re going to get a 7″ iOS tablet; but not because of Jobs’ product aesthetics stance. I don’t think the device has enough legs to warrant the manufacturing line and component costs.

However, we’re really going to have to wait and see… I wouldn’t be the first Apple prognosticator to be wrong about what Apple actually decides to do if they did release a 7″ iPad.

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