Why a 7 Inch iPad Makes Sense

| Ted Landau's User Friendly View

When asked about the wisdom of a 7-in. iPad, Steve Jobs dismissed it as “dead on arrival.” In what I’d like to believe is a case of great minds thinking alike, my initial thoughts were exactly in line with those of Mr. Jobs.

My reasoning at the time was simple. A 7-in. iPad would be too big to function as a mobile alternative to an iPhone or iPod touch. At the other end, it would be too small to adequately function as general purpose tablet computer. Many people see the iPad as ultimately replacing laptops such as the MacBook Air. I can’t see a 7-in. iPad ever doing this. I didn’t see much room in the middle for anything else.

In light of recent events, I’ve reconsidered my logic. I believe my analysis is still 100 percent correct, except for one small detail: the conclusion. I now believe that a 7-in. iPad makes sense after all. The resolution of this paradox lies in the assumptions. If I stand by my initial assumptions, a 7-in. iPad remains a bad idea. The problem is that I no longer think those assumptions are entirely valid. They are too narrow.

What changed my thinking is (you guessed it!) the recent success of the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet. These are 7-in. devices. So how did they succeed?

The first reason is undoubtedly price. At half the cost of even the cheapest iPad, they are an attractive alternative to anyone on a limited budget.

However, I believe the critical factor (the one I overlooked initially) is that these devices are not marketed directly as iPad competitors. They are first and foremost e-readers. Barnes and Noble describes their Tablet (and similar Color model) as the “World’s Best Reading Experience + Tablet Essentials.” Amazon goes a bit further, stressing more how the Kindle Fire leverages all of media (books, movies, music). But that’s still a far way from focusing on the full range of things an iPad can do.

Yes, it’s true you can get apps for Kindle Fires and Nooks — as you can with an iPad. That’s an appealing plus for these devices. But that’s the bonus, not what first sells the device. First and foremost, these devices are an e-reader (and media player). And that’s why the 7-in. screen works. These tablets are just slightly bigger than a typical paperback book, exactly the size that people are most comfortable with for reading. As it turns out, it’s also a very good size for mobile viewing of video and playing games (not as good as the iPad, but much better than the iPhone).

If you think of a Kindle Fire as an e-reader with added iPad-like features for half the price of an iPad, it suddenly can look quite appealing. It’s true that the Fire’s “iPad-like features” don’t come close to working as well as the iPad itself. But they don’t have to work that well for the device to succeed. The original Kindles have been a huge success. The Fire builds on that.

There remains one thing that does still surprise me about these e-reader tablets: the display. I recently bought a Kindle Touch. With its 6-in. display, it’s an even closer match to the size of a paperback than the Fire. More critically, for reading books, its E ink technology offers a great alternative to the iPad’s glossy backlit display. E ink looks almost like you’re reading a printed page; it’s easier on the eyes, works great in bright light, and conserves the battery better. That’s why I got one.

The Fire and Nook tablets abandon this E ink advantage. In order to provide color, they instead have the same sort of display found on an iPad. I would have thought this would be a big negative for people seeking an e-reader. Perhaps, if like me, you already own an iPad, it is a negative. But apparently, for many many people, it’s a trade-off they are happy to make.

And this is precisely where there is a huge opening for Apple to drive through with a 7-in. iPad. A 7-in. iPad at a competitive price could crush the competition. Having read books both on my Kindle Touch and via the Kindle app on my iPad, I can tell you that the Kindle app software on the iPad is far superior. It has a faster smoother feel and offers more features. Once you remove E ink as a consideration, the only reason to prefer the Kindle is its smaller size and lighter weight. A 7-in. iPad would eliminate that advantage for the Kindle. Plus, with the iPad, you don’t have to choose between Amazon, Barnes & Noble or Apple’s own iBooks. You have access to all three. Lastly, once you move beyond media and games to the broader categories of apps, the iPad wins by several miles. All the reviews I have read of the Fire confirm this. The Kindle Fire is a clunker by comparison to the iPad.

Apple could drop a few iPad features (perhaps the camera) to help get the price down. The iPad would still run circles around the competition. Apple might even market the 7-in. device as more focused on being an e-reader and media player, as opposed to its larger sibling. It would still be a winner. Honestly, unless you simply boycott Apple on principle, I can’t imagine why anyone would prefer a Kindle or a Nook to a 7-in. iPad.

Unlike my colleague John Martellero, I don’t quite accept that Apple “got caught with its pants down at Christmas” and that it must now come out with a 7-in. iPad ASAP or fall further behind. While Apple is most known for its leading edge innovations, such as the iPad and iPhone, it is just as often a laggard in adopting new technologies — waiting until they can get it “right” rather than rushing something half-baked to market. The 7-in. iPad could easily be an example of the latter. Despite Steve Jobs’s admonition, I believe Apple is currently working on such a device. And we will see it before the year is over. And when we do, it will rapidly ascend to the top of the heap, with Apple cementing its place as the dominant player in this emerging and profitable market.

And that, my friends, is why I believe Apple should (and will) come out with a 7-in. iPad.

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Comments

skipaq

If Apple would develop a 7” product with the education/youth markets in mind, I believe they would have a huge hit on their hands. This demographic has the potential to drive huge sales for such a product at the right price.

dfdf

7 inches is too small to do anything meaningful.  Instead, make the iphone/touch bigger.  And on the ipad, get rid of the black border

nytesky

Instead of branding it an iPad, it might be better served under the iPod touch brand.

MyRightEye

My iPad, which my arm is currently resting on as I type, is never picked up. It was a fun TOY, but after that weared off, it can serve no practical purpose because it’s too freaking huge. Give me a 7” model, and include all iPhone functions in it too. I am TIRED of crying to freaking devices that have ONE SINGLE chips difference between them. Add the chip for crying out loud. Yes, I want a 7” phone, a full 7” communication device.

bweels

I’ve always hoped for a 7” iPad for one reason: it would be perfect for my wife. She really doesn’t need an iPhone - and doesn’t want one. But the problem with the current iPad is that it’s too big to carry everywhere. A 7” iPad would be perfect for carrying around in a woman’s purse. She’s not a full-time working career woman, so there’s no need for business apps. She’s not into games, really. She’d spend 99% of her time in a half dozen apps. She’d have her calendar, email, photos of the kids, Facebook, grocery list - that kind of thing - with her wherever she went and she’d think that was great. Also, we’re so heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem that a 7” Android tablet just hasn’t had any appeal.

I can’t imagine she’s the only one. It seems to me that “it fits in a purse” could be its own little untapped iPad market segment.

John Martellaro

Ted is simply brilliant.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

This week, ASUS announced a 7” quad+ core $249 version of its Transformer Prime.

Apple’s problem is this: it has thought of the iPad a a “tablet”. A few of its competitors in Android space have though of their slates as “tablets”, and have been in the $500/$600 range with 10” offerings. But traction has been gained in “appliance” space.

For almost a year, I have been using a rooted refurb Nook Color ($200 delivered) running CM7 as a smart clock-radio. It’s pretty much the best clock-radio I’ve ever had. Inspired by this vision of tablet appliance, I ported my procrastinator clock to Android and use that 24/7, including alarms in the morning.

Ted, one thing you miss about the price point is fleet deployment. I’m starting a project this month which may eventually involve thousands of people needing a tablet in the field. Stick a 3G/4G/LTE radio or dongle on these $250 tablets, and we will save hundreds of thousands of dollars over using iPads.

John Martellaro

Brad:  You’re right.  Once there’s a vision and customer traction combined with an open door in Apple’s strategy, competitors will start to drive trucks through it.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

But then John, what happens when some company decides that a 5” square tablet might be useful for some class of applications, and that takes off, and developers discover other synergies for that particular form factor? Is that the point where Apple and its commentariate consider if the “5Sq” form factor needs to be addressed in the Apple product line?

The fundamental problem for Apple here is that these tablets have reached the point where a whole widget model is in the way, while open source (e.g. Android) and licensed (e.g. Windows) models for the OS will enable the plethora of things people actually want to do. Elapsed time: less than 2 years.

Mikuro

I agree for all the reasons you stated and one more: The current iPad is too big to conveniently carry around without a bag. I don’t carry bags with me everywhere, and I don’t want to. When I read books on the go, I tend to read 4x6ers. I can squeeze them into my back pants pocket. In the winter I can easily fit them in my inside coat pockets.

Basically, if I can’t fit it in a pocket, its utility as a portable device is vastly diminished. I love my MacBook Pro, but I don’t take it with me everywhere I go.

There’s room in my pockets for something a lot bigger than an iPhone, but not as big as an iPad. The Samsung Galaxy Note may seem comically large for a phone with its 5.3” screen, but the more I think about tablets, the more I see the appeal

Lee Dronick

The biggest plus of a seven incher, is weight. Holding an iPad to read gets tiring, it needs to be rested on something. The downside is a book or magazine with photos can be too small on a Nook or Kindle.

Hopefully if Apple comes out with an iPad Nano it will probably be a much nicer device than the current crop of readers and priced competitively. In fact I will stick my neck out and say that is will be better, more robust feeling while being light in weight, better screen, better OS and apps.

No camera and probably WiFi only.

Bregalad

I think the “fits in a purse” approach is a potential winner. The iPad mini justifies a higher price by offering more features than a typical e-reader. All that remains is final design. Should it be a small iPad or large iPod touch?

A 7” iPad would have the wide bezels that allow for gripping on the side. That’s a great feature, but it really adds to the bulk and weight of the finished product. Studies have shown that a high percentage of iPads never leave home, probably because they’re so big they need their own bag and too heavy to hold for more than a few minutes. A 7” model would be significantly lighter so that might not be a problem any more.

A 6” iPod touch approaches from the opposite direction. With the iPod’s minimal bezel the finished product would be almost two inches narrower than a 7” iPad making it possible to slip it into most pockets. It would also shed a significant amount of weight. The screen size would match the Kindle touch so it would still make an excellent e-reader.

So ultimately the question is: wide bezel for easy gripping or ultra light and pocketable?

I’m a guy so unless it’s pocketable I’ll never own one, but I can see a lot of other people going for something with a bezel.

Ben LaGuire

I agree Brad for the most part. I don’t see Apple doing anything with a 7inch model. I could see them coming to the table with a current sized iPad with a cut rate entry level price and blow all competitors out of the water. The only reason the Kindle Fire is 7 inches is to get it to a low low price point. Functionality wise it has nothing on an iPad.

Think of the iPhone 4 and 4S, same case, same display, same memory. Lower price point. I can see the iPad 3 being the great, new, next best thing, and the iPad 2 becoming the entry level price point to battle the nook and kindle fire.

Just my thought’s and 2 cents, we all will see when it comes out soon!

John Martellaro

Brad: As I have written, Amazon found a weak spot in Apple’s lineup. Perhaps several million Kindle Fires were sold, but at least a million I estimate.  That needs a response.

If another company comes along with a 5-in square tablet, it may meet the needs of a niche market, but the company that develops it must know that they condemn themselves to a niche. And based on the likely sales numbers, Apple need not respond.

The point here is that a 7-inch, 14 oz. tablet, backed by Amazon’s rich product portfolio, hit a sweet spot with consumers by the millions. It was an unexplored market by Apple. Of course, Apple is free to not address that market and let everyone else jump on that bandwagon.  I just think Apple won’t pass it up.

FlipFriddle

I think the Kindle Fire direction is a dead end. I played with my niece’s new gift at Christmas and while it was fine for Angry Birds and watching a TV show, it was just too small for the viewing the web. In fact using the web browser was terrible. You couldn’t read ANYTHING unless you zoomed in and trying to touch any link with my sausage fingers was an exercise in frustration (not to mention the browser didn’t actually render the web pages I looked at properly either). I don’t get the point of destroying the functionality of a device to make it fit some notion of what people would be willing to carry around.

Ted Landau

it was just too small for the viewing the web

If the Fire is too small for viewing the web, then I guess it’s time to trash my even smaller iPhone.

Seriously, I believe the problem with viewing the web on the Fire is not that it is too small, but that (as you go on to say) the browser is terrible. Safari on an iOS device is much better.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

John, I think what you miss is that these tablet makers that you see competing with Apple are not looking to find “a weak spot in Apple’s lineup” to exploit, either actively or as their prime directive. They find their own form factors which match the target audiences they want to go after. A market with lots of players and lots of freedom to put arbitrary form factors together is going to be able to experiment more and discover these sweet spots in user preference far more efficiently and effectively than a planned market controlled by one person’s or company’s vision.

The B&N Nook Color/Tablet and Kindle Fire are far bigger defensive plays against Apple, in my mind. You don’t see B&N or Amazon getting into branded PCs or smart phones. In both cases, they can already deliver their content to a majority of customers without Apple (or anyone else) imposing tolls or conditions. In non e-Ink tablets, that wasn’t the case. B&N was early to this approach, and Amazon was spurred by the 30% Apple tax on in-app purchases. I think that both will primarily use their devices as exemplars of “B&N experience” or “Amazon experience”, and secondarily as attempts to control some corner of general purpose tablets. Should Android and/or Windows tablets push Apple down to 30% of the tablet market, I’d expect both B&N and Amazon to focus on what they’re good at: software and content.

P.S. The web browser on Kindle Fire is not the standard Android browser. Safari on iOS is snappier than the standard Android browser. But this web cached “Silk” browser defines a new league of crappiness for most users, especially if they have access to a WiFi connection.

inerdtia

If Apple just lowered their ridiculous prices, then they wouldnt need a 7in tablet.

mrmwebmax

+

The fundamental problem for Apple here is that these tablets have reached the point where a whole widget model is in the way, while open source (e.g. Android) and licensed (e.g. Windows) models for the OS will enable the plethora of things people actually want to do. Elapsed time: less than 2 years.

Then why is Apple still selling boatloads more tablets than anyone else? Besides, didn’t you make similar arguments as to why the iPhone would be doomed, telling us all to bookmark your post in October 2010, only to have been shown just yesterday how erroneous you were?

http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/ios_steals_major_smartphone_share_from_android_in_u.s/#comment-49540

Lee Dronick

If Apple just lowered their ridiculous prices, then they wouldnt need a 7in tablet.

Yup, they might have sold more than a few thousand iPads last Christmas shopping season.

vasic

I don’t know… There is only one reason Amazon has sold their ‘Fire’ well: they are selling it for less than what it costs to make. If it were an Apple-made device, it would retail north of $300.

I can see a possible space for a “tweener” device between the iPod touch and the iPad. I’m really not convinced the market would be all that great for it, though, unless Apple does something remarkable with it and makes it an absolute must-have for some reason other than its size/weight.

A full-size iPad has millions of uses. An iPod touch is incredibly portable and has other kinds of uses, barely overlapping with the iPad. An in-between device will reduce the number of uses for iPad (where screen size is needed for proper experience), as well as for iPod (where portability is critical), leaving it with much fewer uses than either of the other two devices.

Well, one of the two things can happen that would confirm/deny my assumptions: a Samsung (or similar) 7” device will sell tens of millions of them (at some normal $300 price), confirming the genuine interest in the platform (and not just “buy it ‘cause it’s cheap” mover for Fire/Nook), or Apple will sense this genuine interest in advance by themselves and come out with such device themselves, selling tens of millions of it.

If neither of these happen within the next year or so, my reservations will be confirmed.

adamC

Sorry I beg to defer.

The 7in being cheaper will cannibalize the sales of the 10in iPad and being of a lower price point will impact the earnings of Apple.

The best strategy is still the one they are using for the iPhone.

Mr. Martellaro Amazon didn’t catch Apple sleeping. But then I can’t fault you in your opinion because it is your opinion and you are entitled to say anything you like. Try to be in Apple’s shoes and think of the big picture.

Anyway Apple don’t give a damn to what we think and if they did they would have went into the production of netbooks because everyone said they should make low margin products.

Their DNA is not to ape others but make the best of its class products.

mhikl

[quote author=“mrmgraphics” date=“1326250333?] . . . Besides, didn?t you make similar arguments as to why the iPhone would be doomed, telling us all to bookmark your post in October 2010, only to have been shown just yesterday how erroneous you were?

http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/ios_steals_major_smartphone_share_from_android_in_u.s/#comment-49540

mrmgraphics, I?m still waiting a response from his prediction-ship, just as I am still waiting back at the site you noted.

I don?t think one is coming. And I am surprised. Maybe Bosco assumes he is being picked on. Maybe he regretted his prediction. Maybe he hasn?t come back to either site and is not aware of this perspective. If the latter, then a reminder another time might be in order. We do like answers at TMO.

RonMacGuy

Careful mrmgraphics, keep pushing and you will end up on Bosco’s ignore list with me.  grin

mhikl, as I have stated several times over the past few years of our TMO discussions, it has nothing to do with Bosco being picked on or Bosco regretting his predictions - he simply can’t admit that he is or ever was wrong.  So, he will ignore and avoid the comments until they go away, or until people stop addressing the topic.  Not being mean here - just pointing out a fact.

mhikl

mhikl, as I have stated several times over the past few years of our TMO discussions, it has nothing to do with Bosco being picked on or Bosco regretting his predictions - he simply can?t admit that he is or ever was wrong.

Shocked Ron, I am shocked!

I have never, ever seen where Bosco is wrong. Every time anyone finds some suspicious titbit, Bosco comes back and shows the provider where s/he is wrong. It?s boomerangonics.

I expect he shall do the same with this one. He has just missed seeing it (twice) or, he is on a quest and adjusting his facts.
He is a very busy dude, I am sure.
But wasn?t JonGI?s post interesting.

RonMacGuy

Shocked Ron, I am shocked!

grin

And yes, JonGI’s post was interesting.  I am surprised I didn’t remember seeing that discussion in Oct 2010.  Tough to keep up with everything.  If I had, it would have for sure been part of my tracker as well!!  You’ll like my response on the other thread.

Great news for Apple all around right now, but it can turn ugly very quickly as well.  Bosco could easily have been right with his predictions too.  A few android phones with a little better battery life or less fragmentation and malware, Apple not working out a deal with Verizon or Sprint, Siri falling flat on its face, 4S camera not as good as expected, iOS 5 problems, etc.  Luckily Apple did not stumble.  Looking forward to 2012 and all the exciting announcements this year.  Hoping I can replace my daughters’ 30 pounds of school books each year with iPads!!

rjackb

If all you ever do is read books then a 7 inch iPad might be right for you. But that size is almost completely useless for any other purpose.

iJack

I made a photo comparison of the two sizes, which was quite revealing.  If I knew how, I would upload it to this thread for everyone to see.  You’ll just have to go here in the meantime.

http://i898.photobucket.com/albums/ac189/iJack33/iPadCompare.jpg

I used 7” as the diagonal because everybody here has been using that number, but keep in mind the all of the rumors coming out of China have said that the screen will be 7.85”

Lee Dronick

If all you ever do is read books then a 7 inch iPad might be right for you. But that size is almost completely useless for any other purpose.

Well I do use my iPhone for purposes other than reading and it is smaller than these shorthand tablets. But yeah, for other than reading the mini tablets are not as useful as an iPad.

Lee Dronick

I made a photo comparison of the two sizes, which was quite revealing.? If I knew how, I would upload it to this thread for everyone to see.? You?ll just have to go here in the meantime.

Thanks Jack. It doesn’t look significantly smaller, especially when compared to an iPhone/iPod Touch. The statements about slipping a 7 inch tablet into a pocket is something to consider, one would probably fit into a sports coat pocket. However, as to the hassle of schlepping an iPad, well before them we carried MacBooks.

Paul Goodwin

I agree rjackb. The iPad is an almost perfect device for browsing. I love my iPhone but the web experience on the small screen was endless pinching and stretching. A 7inch pad would require too much of that. When you look at a full web page on an iPad, I can’t imagine going any smaller without it just being too frustrating. So that makes the 7 inch one a book reader that’ll do email. Doesn’t sound like a good machine for me. When I leave the house I take the iPhone, when I’m home I’m on the iPad and lately hardly ever on my 15 month old iMac, which Instill love. Apple hit the magic sweet spot with the iPad. The new ones will likely be lighter, with a smaller border. And who knows how much more functionality it will have.

Lee Dronick

The new ones will likely be lighter, with a smaller border.

I find that the border on my iPad is almost too small.

Paul Goodwin

When I look back at all the money I’ve spent on different things, the iPad 2 for $550 was either the best or nearly the best money I’ve ever spent. I get more use out of it than anything else I’ve ever bought, excepting maybe the TV and the car. With a 7 inch screen, I’d be back on my iMac more which would make me feel good about that, but I wouldn’t be using the small tablet like I do the iPad 2, and I wouldn’t feel good at all about that. They should make the iPad 3 at today’s iPad 2 prices and continue making iPad 2 at reduced prices. I’ll be happy with the performance of the 2 for a long time unless they muck it up with a bloated newer OS that’s only responsive on an iPad 3. That happened to the iPhone 3GS. One of the iOS updates turned it into a dog speed wise. I don’t remember which release it was but one day it was plenty responsive, and after the update it was painfully slow. It made me go out and get an iPhone 4 so their strategy (if that’s what it was) worked. Lesson learned. After the iPad 3 comes out, I’ll find out first if it turns an iPad 2 into an Eco-Pad

Paul Goodwin

Yeah Lee - about the border. Sometimes my fingers make it all the way to the screen and bump a link accidentally. So a smaller border wouldn’t necessarily be better

Paul Goodwin

Ted. Certainly a good discussion topic.

Dorje Sylas

Well I lost my long post here is the long and short.

Amazon already pulled an Apple on eBooks. They disrupted and now own that market. The trade paperback was the size. Apple was looking to disrupt and then own magazines (and quietly textbooks). 8.5x11 was the size.

Second, price. Alpha and Omega of the matter. The reason the HP TouchPad sold on fire sale. The reason the Galaxy Tab 7 didn’t shoot the moon. The reason Android phones keep getting more “activations.” Price.

Apple will not build a 7” because they aren’t taking on eBooks, not yet, not truly. They have iBooks by happenstance and as a precursor to trying to get magazines and (as soon to be clear) textbooks. Never paperbacks.

Jack .r

There’s a reason why Ivy/ Jobs decided on the 11” screen size of the Ipad….  Because its the most suitable screen size for content consumption.  Portabilty was secondary to them, most important is form factor and user adaptability. 7” inch devices are just a fad. Very soon people who bought them will relalize 7” is too damn small

zewazir

7? inch devices are just a fad. Very soon people who bought them will relalize 7? is too damn small

I disagree.  My wife’s kindle is actually a very nice size - for reading ebook novels. For that specific purpose, an 11” screen device is on the largish, somewhat cumbersome in comparison. OTOH, for some other kinds of content, the larger screen of the iPad is preferable, while the smaller screen makes it difficult to view - one is either trying to read too-small print, or constantly needing to scroll up and down, left and right.  In short, there is a definitive and specific market for each size screen, depending on what it is going to be used for.

Another concept I disagree with is the idea that Kindle (specifically Kindle Fire) is taking market share away from iPad, thus bringing about the need for Aple to come out with a 7” iPad (mini, nano, condensed, whatever).  Those who chose the Kindle Fire may have desired an iPad, but it was out of their price range.  Others may not have desired an iPad at all, just a nice eReader.  But in either case, the choice to buy a Kindle Fire was probably one of Kindle or nothing, rather than a case of “Do I get a Kindle or iPad?”.  Apple has traditionally - and very successfully - chosen not to pursue the low end “cheaper or nothing” consumer choice.

doug

“My wife?s kindle is actually a very nice size - for reading ebook novels. For that specific purpose, an 11? screen device is on the largish, somewhat cumbersome in comparison. OTOH, for some other kinds of content, the larger screen of the iPad is preferable, while the smaller screen makes it difficult to view - one is either trying to read too-small print, or constantly needing to scroll up and down, left and right.”

Exactly.  My kids’ Kindles are great—I mean truly great—for reading.  They are e-Ink models, not Fire or Touch, and are perfect.  There is a huge market for that size and Amazon has got it nailed.  (Not least because Amazon has got the book market nailed too, and got the light weight and endless battery life just right.)  I don’t think Apple needs to be there, not at $79 each.

Dirt Road

I’m not convinced. For one thing, I think adamC is correct, a 7” iPad could cannibalize high-end iPad sales. For another, the 7” form factor is portable only for the (roughly) half of the population that carries a purse. If you can’t easily take it with you, it’ll usually stay home.

The 7” “tablets” that are getting all the traction right now are Kindle Fire and Nook Color ? and those are both really peripherals to Amazon’s and B&N’s media stores rather than tablet computers in their own right. Sure, you can jailbreak either one to make a general-purpose tablet, but how many people go through the steps? You have to remember, Apple’s media store is there to break-even and support hardware sales. The color eReaders are there to break-even and support media sales. Thus, Apple isn’t going to be able to offer a 7” iPad at a “competitive” price ? the business models are too different.

trrll

I’d rather have an e-ink reader from Apple.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@Ron: You’re still off ignore for the time being.

@mrm: Perhaps Apple just needed to turn the corner with its iPhone, and giving them away was a great way to get that #3 device spot. Yet, we still hear in the AFB forums from the monkeys pumping the stock that all Android phones are sold BOGO. It would be nice if that were true, as it would have saved me several Benjamins moving my family to Verizon in November. I suspect that the trend will revert in coming months. There is a flood of innovation of the Android side, coming through multiple channels. Most people like choice.

I was recently at a local Pete’s Coffee when some guys in line were admiring one of their buddy’s new iPhone 4S. After ordering my Large Caf? Mocha and paying for it with Google Wallet (simple side-load, even for VZN customers) on my Galaxy Nexus, I did my best Paul Hogan and said, “now this is a phone”.

mhikl

I was recently at a local Pete?s Coffee when some guys in line were admiring one of their buddy?s new iPhone 4S. After ordering my Large Caf? Mocha and paying for it with Google Wallet (simple side-load, even for VZN customers) on my Galaxy Nexus, I did my best Paul Hogan and said, ?now this is a phone?.

Now that is class.

Substance

I still say if you want an e-reader, get the Kindle Classic.  It’s simply the best at that role.  If you want a tablet, get the iPad.

Yes, lots of people bought Fire’s over Christmas.  And everyone I know who got one got it for one reason - price.  THey think they are getting the best of both worlds, and for 1/3 of the cost of a base iPad + Kindle Classic. 

But as Apple has shown, put out a premium product that people actually enjoy using and they will come back.  The Fire is inferior to both the iPad and the Kindle Classic.  Both those devices have enough penetration that in time owners of the Fire, many of whom weren’t sure if the $500 iPad was worth the cost, will see what their friends are doing with the app-tastic iPad and the pocket-sized, slightly heavier-than-air Kindle Classic and be envious.  If anything, the Fire might just be the gateway drug for users to eventually upgrade to the iPad, just as many Android users (particularly those on Verizon) are upgrading to the (now cheaper) iPhone. 

I wonder if the Fire is meant to be the foot-in-the-door for Amazon in the tablet market.  What big new idea do they have coming out next?  I’m not seeing it. 

Also I wonder if they are trying to succeed by disrupting Apple.  If Apple has to build a 7” tablet, that’s another resolution that developers have to support, and you’re one step closer to fragmantation (no where close to what Android developers experience, but Apple has wisely kept it simple for developers so far).

So while the Fire may have made a holiday splash - cheap enough to give as a gift - let’s wait and see how this plays out.  Amazon may have achieved their goal of getting that all-important market penetration, but at what price?  Ask HP, Compaq, Packard-Bell, Gateway and Dell how important market dominance has been in PCs. Amazon can sell as many Fire’s as they want, if they don’t make money on them then they’re not sitting on a strong foundation for the future. 

For now, the easy answer for Apple is to do nothing.  Let Amazon bleed some cash and see how many happy Fire owners their are by April.  If Apple has to do something, they can just sell the iPad or iPad 2 at a reduced cost (something John and many others suggested they do even before the iPad 2 was announced).  And long-term, Apple should consider a slightly larger iPhone and possibly convert the iPod Touch to a 5” to 6” screen.  That should cover all the bases and requires no panic switch for Apple.

John Martellaro

Substance: I believe everyone who thinks a 7-in iPad is a good idea also agrees that it will have the same resolution, 1024 x 768, as the previous iPads. Current technology is capable of that.

mhikl

And long-term, Apple should consider a slightly larger iPhone and possibly convert the iPod Touch to a 5? to 6? screen.  That should cover all the bases and requires no panic switch for Apple.

You have a lot of substance here, Substance.

I got a Kobo e-reader which is similar to the Kindle Classic, I believe, as I was finding my iPod touch irritating since Amazon mucked up Stanza e-reader. Now I have gone back to my iPt as I am not impressed with the Kobo and am using Apple’s iBook, which I have discovered answers all my needs. However, should a larger iPt to come along, that and a Mac Air would cover all my needs. The iPad will become part of our family when the little guy is old enough that both of us can use it.

We are in interesting times. Visited Future Shop over the weekend and the Android answers to the iPad are so lame. It all comes down to the ecosystem and even my diehard anti-Apple buds are musing that Apple has this leg of the game tied up.

UW

For me….my iPad is just to big to take some places.  I needed a smaller device and I suspect many people do.  If you had an iPad and someone gave you a 7” inch tablet you would be amazed how light the 7 inchers are.  They feel like a book.  The iPad feels quite heavy in comparison.
Did I mention children???  My nieces just don’t want to carry around the bigger device. 

10” for some, 7” for some…to each his own right?  (I certainly have both)

BTW, I wish one of these article would seriously take syncing into account.  If you add syncing to the debate all non Apple tablets fall to pieces.  People should know they will not have the ease of syncing as an Apple device….uncless of course you don’t sync smile

wab95

Ted:

I realise you wrote this some time ago, but in my travels, I was unable to read and respond. I think you (and John separately) make good points here, and they certainly bear some thought.

Along that line, I suggest caution. I have seen passing few data (none really) on who these purchasers are who have snapped up the KF, how they use those devices, and most importantly, whether these consumers were ever potential iPad purchasers. On this latter point, the data are still sketchy, but suggest that at least some KF buyers did consider in iPad.

That said, I think the call to arms for a 7” riposte may be premature if not an over-reaction. The consequences to programmers alone to optimise their software for a smaller display alone are not inconsequential.

I think Brad makes a valid point above when he asks what should Apple do if some OEM comes out with a 5” display - and it sells like hotcakes. Should Apple lurch in that direction as well?

What gives me pause are a couple of minor but niggling and consistent observations. The first is that of the iPhone. One of the most consistent complaints against the iPhone by people who have bought Android devices is the screen display size - too small. They want a larger display (we will ignore resolution - which BTW renders the iPhone just fine for reading in my opinion). I posit that many who complain that the iPhone screen is too small represent the same population who complain that the iPad screen is too large. Why? Simple. These are Apple averse consumers. It doesn’t matter what form factor or aspect ratio Apple comes up with, it will never be ‘just right’. Many of these consumers are simply not in the market for an Apple product.

Having played with a number of 7” devices now, I personally appreciate the larger screen of the iPad for what I do (content creation and consumption alike).

This leads to the second observation. People who purchase iOS devices appear to use them differently than those who purchase Android devices. Do purchasers of 7” tablets, specifically the KF, use their devices in the same way iPad owners use theirs, and if so, how does the 7” form factor affect such usage? It would be prudent, I should think, before investing in new product development, to have at least a rudimentary understanding of this behaviour. If the deployment of these devices is dissimilar; worse, if these were people who would never purchase anything Apple, then the rush by Apple to create a 7” iPad may be tantamount to chasing mirages in the desert.

While we do not know if Apple could succeed with a 7” iPad (no empirical data at any rate), we do know, as Ben LaGuire points out above, that lowering the price of older models with new version rollouts is a winning formula with iOS devices.

While accepting the possibility that Apple may come out with a 7” model for all the reasons you cite, I question whether it is either necessary for Apple to gain further marketshare, or will even capture a substantial fraction of the 7” market without thoughtful adjustment for actual use.

I remain sceptical on both fronts.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

That said, I think the call to arms for a 7? repost may be premature if not an over-reaction. The consequences to programmers alone to optimise their software for a smaller display alone are not inconsequential.

Advantage: Android fragmentation. To me as a longtime desktop software developer, the hesitancy of some mobile developers to support different screen sizes sounds as if desktop developers are complaining about how to handle resizable windows. It’s just one of those things that looks like Mt. McKinley stacked atop Mt. Everest to the uninitiated, but once you work it into your personal design “language”, it really adds no appreciable additional cost going forward.

But wab95: What I like about the Android space is that if it’s likely or possible to have some traction, there will probably be a market experiment, and we can all learn from it. With Apple, we just get to discuss what they give us or don’t give us.

RonMacGuy

Very interesting article about android tablets.

wab95

Very interesting article about android tablets.

Interesting article, Ron. Many thanks for the link. Jason Hiner’s “postmortem” piece was also a thoughtful read.

I have never felt that, what I’ve styled ‘the unified field theory’ would boost Android tablet sales in that it (ICS) does not address they key problems holding the platform back. Item 3 on Jason’s list (lack of enterprise trust) was a deal-breaker for my team and me when we looked at a possible Android tablet solution recently for one of our vaccine trials, and I think a key barrier to business-sector uptake.

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