The rumored but almost certain 7.85 inch iPad model has been coined “iPad mini.” I don’t think that wouldn’t be a smart name choice by Apple, and so I offer an argument for “iPad 7.”
1. The 7-inch Market. The 7-inch tablet market was created as an ostensible weakness in Apple’s strategy and product line. If Steve Jobs didn’t like the 7-inch concept, well, that was that. But Amazon and Google bet that customers would, and they were right. So Apple would like to jump in and confront those companies head-to-head. It’s a new war in the 7-inch category, and to emphasize that, the new Apple tablet should reflect that competitive category. Headlines will read, “iPad 7 vs. Nexus 7 - who wins?” This is a Good Thing. Customers will recognize Apple's unambiguous response.
2. Connotation. The word mini invokes the idea of something that’s diminutive, minimalist. That may have been a cute idea for the physically small iPod mini, but in a heated war with other tablet makers, it sounds weak, perhaps even effeminate. Detractors or comedians would also tempted to make jokes related to feminine hygiene products, and Jay Leno has already done so. Does Apple really want to see a comparison between a techy, manly sounding Nexus 7 (say it with Mike Rowe’s voice) versus an iPad mini? The comparison doesn’t sound right to the technical ear.
3. Size vs. Version. One might argue that Apple should go its own way with the name but avoid confusing display size with the numerical generation. The iPhone series is named for each major generation, now at number 5. One can argue that iPad 7 would raise the question: is that the 7th generation? But no one has asked that question about the Nexus 7 because everyone understands the product category. Besides, if we’re going by strict logic, one need only ponder the decision to call Apple’s 3rd generation iPad the new iPad. Marketing beats logic every time.
On the Mac side, Apple hasn’t invited confusion by distinguishing between an 11-inch MacBook Air and and 13-inch MacBook Air. Apple customers are well familiar with the idea of selecting a product by screen size.
4. The Number Seven. The number seven has a powerful and meaningful heritage. The number is considered lucky. Lucky Seven Saturday was 7/7/07. It has important, positive meaning in the Christian Bible and even in other religions and cultures.
The number 7 also has a subliminal technical ring to it. Remember, before NASA’s Apollo Program, there was the Mercury Program with seven astronauts. Their Mercury capsules had names like “Freedom 7,” “Liberty Bell 7,” and “Friendship 7.” It’s natural and clever to add iPad 7 to the list to take advantage of that memorable sound in the mind.
Even if Apple calls it the iPad 7-inch, it will soon be nicknamed the iPad 7, probably because the Nexus 7 invites editorial comparison and simplification.
Of course, Apple could get all crazy and call it “The New Adventures of the Old iPad.” Um, new iPad. Whatever.