back to article More Steve Jobs iPad mini attacks from beyond the grave

Rumors of an impending Apple iPad mini continue to proliferate, with The New York Times being the latest to weigh in, and Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal already having had their say, so it's a good time to recount the late Steve Jobs's arguments as to why such a device will be doomed to failure. Much has been made about …

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If all these rumours are true regarding a new iPhone form factor and a new iPad form factor, I think they must think they've figured out a way to make the form factor changes less painful than it is on other platforms. However, I can't see that personally. Too many apps have a bitmap for the background that will need redone for a new resolution. If all the stuff went to vector instead of bitmap then it would be more understandable.

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Trollface

...like flash?

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Holmes

The bottom line is this, the Apple 7" tablet will arrive, it's on it's way.

However, it won't be 7" it will be 7.9" that way the company stay true to the Jobs doctrine that 7" tablets are no good.

Alternatively, there is the possibility that the 7" tablet will not be bought out and in fact the new iPhone will bridge the gap with a larger screen.

However, the speculation and sneaky leaks, the what ifs and the deliberate secrecy policy do Apple appear to get up everyone's nose.

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Anonymous Coward

How about they call the 7" iThingy the new iPod touch (or perhaps have some other suffix to the iPod like "iPod media") then they can stay true to the 'tablets have to be 10"' rule and indicate that the 7" iThingy is designed for media consumption whereas the iPad is suited to content creation. That way they then have 3 levels of device

iPhone (and possibly still iPod touch) for mobile use

7" iThingy/"iPod media" for personal media consumption

iPad as a general purpose tablet

Note that the Kindle fire and Nexus 7 are both aimed at media consumption so this would be consistent with addressing that market and also making a statement that iPad is something different

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I-Book? I-Pod Max? They might certainly want to keep their toes in the pure consumer world that Amazon and now Google are going for.

I agree that 7" is too small for many productivity apps, my Samsung Galaxy 8.9 is about as good as it gets (size, weight and usability trade-off) in my view but perfectly good for media consumption which is why e-book-readers are generally 6" or 7".

Apple's happy as long as it means people are holding off buying from Amazon or Google.

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Thumb Up

i-Book

Great idea, if it was just called an ipad there is less likely a fanboi might buy it if they already have a larger one. But make it loook like a different product and they'll all want one.

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Anonymous Coward

@ An0n C0w4rd

* will need REDOING

or

will need TO BE redone.

Let's go to the effort of forming complete sentences, shall we?

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Anonymous Coward

iPad is suited to content creation

PMSL, did you manage to type that with a straight face?

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WTF?

Jobs' argument about 7-inch touch screens being too small to use effectively doesn't make any sense when everybody is already happily using much smaller screens on their phones.

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Facepalm

But people don't do the same kind of stuff on phones and tablets. At least I don't.

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Steve Jobs made the crucial point that screen size dictates UI design, and this is crystal clear on the iOS platforms: a "universal" app that runs on both iPhone and iPad has two different GUIs, not just one.

Contrast with Android where many app developers simply stretch their small smartphone GUIs up to fit a larger tablet display, with no other concession to the display's size and its opportunities for providing a richer, more streamlined, user experience.

Steve Jobs nailed Apple's design philosophy with this one paragraph:

"You're looking at it wrong. You're looking at it as a hardware person in a fragmented world. You're looking at it as a hardware manufacturer that doesn't really know much about software, who doesn't really think about an integrated product, but assumes the software will somehow take care of itself."

Hardware without software is just a brick. Software without hardware is just bits in the aether. You cannot separate the two during the design phase for a product. This has ALWAYS been Jonathan Ive's design approach and neither Ive nor Jobs have ever made a secret of this, despite their competitors' best efforts to jam their fingers in their ears and sing "La-la-la! We're not listening!"

Again: Apple have never made any secret of their holistic, unified hardware-and-software-combined design approach. Ever. Even Microsoft have finally twigged that it makes sense to control both aspects of the design instead of just the one. They've since had a roaring success with their games consoles, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if their "Surface" tablets do better than expected too.

The IT industry's old guard—including the crusty beardos in the IT media—are still obsessing over raw technical specifications, feature bullet-lists (utterly ignoring their usability, which is a damned sight more important than their mere inclusion), pointless benchmarks, and other such nerdy bollocks. So much for being progressive: there are more conservatives in the IT industry than there are in the British Tory Party.

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One size fits all?

I think the 7-inch tablet size is an excellent one, myself.

It's portable enough to whip out of a pocket, check something and put back within 15 seconds - as accessible and transportable as a phone - where as I find a full 10-inch screen too big for any of my pockets - digging the larger tablet out the bag is fine but it's simply not as accessible as a smaller tablet.

I think there's a good place for a 10-inch tablet in the home (as a living-room device, say) but I feel the 7-inch form factor has greater utility for travel. If I was travelling and felt a need for the screen-real estate, processing power, etc offered by a 10-inch tablet, I'd use my laptop instead and do it properly. I'd have to dig that out my bag just as I would with a 10-inch tablet, anyway!

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I agree with some of what you have said but I'd like to point out that Android has very good tools for handling different screen sizes and pixel density, and since Honeycomb has had "fragments" for allowing the different phone/tablet GUIs that you are referring to. There's no doubt that fragments in particular are underutilised at the moment though and this could be attributed to the fact that Android share of the 9-10" tablet market is not really worth targetting yet. And sure, it's best if one company controls both hardware and software, assuming that that one company excels at both.That was definitely the case 5 years ago when Apple clearly had the best hardware/software combination in phones and is still true today in 9-10" tablets.

But for me personally the hardware/software experience of many Android phones (Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X) is superior to the iPhone so I don't believe that your theory still holds true. Sometimes having a company that makes great hardware (like Samsung or HTC) paired with a company that makes great software (Google, at least since ICS) can deliver the best product. Of course, this is based on personal opinion but like many Android users, I previously owned an iPhone so feel qualified to make an educated (personal) comparison.

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@Darren 12

"But for me personally the hardware/software experience of many Android phones (Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X) is superior to the iPhone"

The problem here is that they didn't design those phones, they tried EVERY combination until they found one that wasn't crap, and they did it at huge cost to end users who kept buying phone after phone in the hope that maybe, just maybe, the next one won't be unusably slow.

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Wrong. Since the OS and software on a phone has been written its size in mind.

If you take the existing iPad 10" where the software has been designed for its screen then load that software onto a 7" device then you'll find many things will be hard to press.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: One size fits all?

Nobody ever suggested that a 10" tablet is a pocketable device.

Remember Palmtop computers and PDAs? these were the mobile computers of the 90s and early 00s. They're the same size as smartphones are now, so these are the portables people used to use.

People carry laptops around, but nobody ever suggested that a laptop is pocketable either. People do carry bags around sometimes.

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Actually

They'll be exactly as hard to press as they are on an iPhone, as they're just going to use 3GS screens cut to 1024x768, which shockingly works out to a 7.8" iPad, and given current iPad apps are designed around the iPhone's 44 pixel touch targets it means the buttons will be rendered on an iPad mini at exactly the same size as they are on an iPhone.

The thing that strikes me though, is that a 4:3 8" display doesn't sound very pocketable, even after losing the bezel on two of the sides in comparison to a 16:9 7" display.

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry

Sorry old chap, Jobs was living in the past. Things have moved on.

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android ... simply stretch their small smartphone GUIs

I know this was only a small part of your post but felt inclined to comment.

While there are certainly apps that do this, this is not an android issue, only a developer one. Even Steve Jobs didn't think much of ios developers capabilities/attitudes "developers aren't going to deal real well with all these different-size products", which I took to mean people are just going to stretch their UIs too.

Both android and iOS have plenty of features to support mutli size UIs, and not just resizing bits, but providing completely GUIs for different sizes (although for an app with a truely dynamic UI I'd much prefer to develop for android). This is not just a mobile issue. On desktop apps how many people have struggled with fixed sized dialogs (I'm looking at you here microsoft), or information overload on small screens.

There is no reason at all the same app can not target multple devices based on screen size alone*. Any deficiencies in the apps user experience are the designers/developers. * Ok, there are some applications, but assuming the device is large enough to be practical, which I guess was SJ's main point.

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Depends on what phone you're using. Ask a Galaxy Note owner.

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Well, some people might not do the same thing on a 10" tablet as they do on a 4" phone/tablet.

But then, what was Jobs saying? "You need a 10" tablet to do things that you can do on a 10" tablet"? Well, thanks for that marvellous insight! The point is that smaller tablets are still useful, whether it's 9", 7" or 4-5".

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"Contrast with Android"

Not true, there are plenty of Android apps that have larger screen versions.

You're right that Apple users for often get special attention with special Ipad and Iphone versions, where as Android users don't, but that's not a criticism of Android, it's a criticism of the way that the media and companies unfairly cater for Apple users, despite being a smaller platform.

If, e.g., Sky have an Iphone and Ipad app, but only have an "Android" app, that's not because Apple or Jobs are great, or Google are bad. It's because Sky are unfairly catering for Apple users over Android users (though I suppose Android users should be thankful to get support at all, when most platforms get none - Apple are always unfairly catered for first, despite never having been the largest platform in handheld devices).

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I agree with most your comment, but:

"That was definitely the case 5 years ago when Apple clearly had the best hardware/software combination in phones"

Really? The first Iphone lacked 3G support (hardware); couldn't do apps or even copy/paste (software). There was no "clear" about it - best is a matter of opinion here, and based on sales, most people have the opinion that the best was elsewhere.

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That's lovely, but last time I looked, Apple made laptops and desktops witha variety of screen sizes, resolutions and aspect ratios without coming over all precious about it. Yes of course software developers need to take account of the various display possibilities (whichever cretins wrote the National Rail Android app, the one which switches into portrait mode for some screens even when the device is being used in landscape, I'm looking at you) but that doesn't mean it can't be done perfectly well.

Apple's unified hardware and software approach worked very well in the original Mac days, but soon failed as other manufacturers and developers got their joint and several acts together. It seems reasonable to expect that this will also happen on tablets, as it already has on phones - iPhones are now the commodity smartphone and suffering from a badly dated and inflexible interface.

I think you nail it with your comment on "the design phase of a product". iPhones and iPads are long, long past their design phases, and it makes no sense to attempt to maintain restrictions now which were useful then. It's generally only when systems are allowed to develop after launch that they succeed long term.

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Re: @Darren 12

Perhaps. But then, any iPhone user wanting a good, fast, useable, flexible device will already have bought at least three of them, and will probably have their name down for an iPhone 5 already.

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Steve Jobs was sandbagging Fibonacci

Fibonacci said natural sizes follow the golden ratio, discovered by the Greeks. As flowers and children evolve sizes add up: 3, 5, 8, 13. Starting from the natural size for a 13" Mac Book, and a 3" phone, Jobs could have build a 5" device that adults could consult, or a hand held 7" mobile laptop replacement that adults could consult instead of toying around with fashionable devices for children (twits and facebookistas).

Rather than lead the world into the mobile, knowledgeable, multiple sensory, info devices for doing real work. Jobs built toys for video, games, and gossip girls. Microsoft is flattering Jobs by copying his errors.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Build

The past tense of build is BUILT.

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Alert

If a 7" device is not an iPhone and not an iPad - what is it?

So if I don't argue with Rik Myslewski's summary, or SJ's original comments - then I have to assume that the 7" device is not an iPhone or an iPad but something else.

What could it be?

Maybe an iPod?

I already use: Kindle (orig white), iPad, iPhone and MacBook for different tasks. The iPad I actually use the least of the four. For entertainment I probably use the Kindle the most (ok I like to read fiction), followed by the iPhone (sports scores, news, a little reading when I caught in a delay without the Kindle).

If the 7" device is not an iPhone and not an iPad - I'm betting it's a kindle. Optimised for the 'newsstand' and 'books' apps and not much else. I tried reading a book on the iPad (a freebie at Christmas from iTunes by Jo Nesbro) and it almost broke my wrist. A 10" device is just too heavy for reading for hours at a time. The kindle is ideal.

Do I think Apple can come up with a 7" device light enough for me to replace my Kindle. No. I even tried the B&N Nook Color - still too heavy IMHO.

But I'm guessing the 7" device is an iPod.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm

Are they 10'' or 7'' kitchen units though?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Kitchen Units Nottingham

Upvoted. Genuinely good information even if completely irrelevant. Time we stopped treating bots as second class Internet citizens imo.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If a 7" device is not an iPhone and not an iPad - what is it?

It's a GiPod touch!

*ahem*

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Re: If a 7" device is not an iPhone and not an iPad - what is it?

"But I'm guessing the 7" device is an iPod."

It might just be the remote control for the iTV

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Holmes

Re: If a 7" device is not an iPhone and not an iPad - what is it?

It's an iPod, obvs, because all their devices do that by default. But that's *too obvious. It's going to be a Kindle-killer: books/movies principally, games of course - something you can hold comfortably with one hand while straphanging on the daily commute. And do a bit of email/facebooking on should the mood take you.

What it won't be for is editing movies/garageband/documents ie any real productivity, because you can do that palavah once you get where you're going, on your nice proper computer or work-grade tablet. Pure entertainment, my dear! Fun. Remember fun??

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Megaphone

Developers, Developers, Developers!

Initially Jobs didn't think an app store would even fly and had serious doubts that enough quality developers would be on board. I think that might be why he didn't want to potentially frustrate developers by having too many distinct hardware platforms (at least off the bat). But now, the iPad might have even exceeded Jobs expectations in sales and there's plenty of developers chomping at the bit to develop for a new form factor if there is, indeed, one in the works.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Developers, Developers, Developers!

> chomping at the bit

champing at the bit

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Re: Developers, Developers, Developers!

> > chomping at the bit

> champing at the bit

Chumping at the butt

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Re: Developers, Developers, Developers!

> > > chomping at the bit

> > champing at the bit

> Chumping at the butt

What what

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Ummmm Yeah. Right.

So explain why I chose a Kindle Fire over an iPad. Oh yeah, because an iPad didn't fit in my purse. If I wanted to carry around a bulky piece of electronics I have a 13" Mac Laptop. Jobs got this one wrong.

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Happy

Re: Ummmm Yeah. Right.

I want a 7" tablet with a dual beam projector and Kinnect - like detector so I can manipulate a projected image.

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Re: Ummmm Yeah. Right.

I've got a Nexus 7 on order. I was offered a used iPad 2G by a co-worker who lined up for the "new" ipad but decided it was too big. Would have liked an SD slot but otherwise the Nexus is just about what I was waiting for.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ummmm Yeah. Right.

And I want a house made of gold and a harem of big-breasted strippers ready to service me at any hour of the day.

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JDX
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Jobs got this one wrong.

Except that the expensive, cumbersome 10" iPad sells more than all 7" tab manufacturers combined :)

I have no issue with a 7-8" tablet... his arguments have some sense but remember things change and those comments were from a while ago.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ummmm Yeah. Right.

"Would have liked an SD slot but otherwise the Nexus is just about what I was waiting for."

You could get a Nook Color and then get a CyanogenMod SD card here...

http://n2acards.com/

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Edge to edge

Take the bezel away and you have smaller iPad.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Edge to edge

"Take the bezel away ...." .... then you'd definitely have to "hold it the right way"

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Perhaps not 7"...

Current rumours point to a 7.85" form factor. Coupled with the 4:3 aspect ratio andthis gives you 66% of the current iPads screen area, not 45%. (Apparently, as I haven't done the maths)

http://www.macrumors.com/2012/07/10/why-apples-7-85-inch-ipad-mini-isnt-a-7-inch-tablet/

Steve

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Re: Perhaps not 7"...

When two devices are the same aspect ratio you can just divide the one diagonal by the other and square what you get — that makes 65.49% in my book.

Doing it all at length, a 7" 16:9 screen has a width of about 15.5cm and a height of 8.7cm. Surface area is about 135 square centimetres.

A 9.7" 4:3 screen has a width of about 19.7cm and a height of about 14.8cm. So surface area is about 291.6 square centimetres.

A 7.85" 4:3 screen is approximately 16cm by 12cm, for a surface area close to 192 square centimetres.

So the 7" is about 46% as large as the 9.7" and 70% as large as the 7.85". The 7.85" is about 42% larger than the 7" and almost 66% as large as the 9.7". The 9.7" is about 117% larger than the 7" and 52% larger than the 7.85".

So that no doubt clears everything up!

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Anonymous Coward

What's 7 inches good for?

Reading/watching movies.

Alot of people want to do this and will do this on a $200 device that's light enough to comfortably use for these purposes (some people, like my wife, find the iPad is just too heavy).

Now if Apple could reduce the weight of the iPad to that of the Nexus 7 and still sell it for $200 with a 10 inch screen, then Jobs would be right.

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FAIL

Reality distortion

As always, in these interviews, Jobs is applying his reality distortion trick. He's so convincing that he believes it himself and manages to convince others he's right.

The 'sandpaper fingers' comment is just silly and it's contradicted as soon as he mentions users with smartphones, which have tiny screens by comparison.

We manage to cope with those screens just fine.

The problem with tablets that are 7" isn't anything to do with their size, it's simply that they haven't managed to make a large enough dent in Apples leadership, because, lets face it, they are mostly inferior products.

It remains to be seen whether the Nexus 7 has the right price point and a slick enough interface to convince those who find iPads too expensive to warrant a purchase, or, in fact, wonder why they would even need a tablet device in the first instance.

There are plenty of us out there who still question whether tablets are worth bothering with in their current iteration.

All the people I know who have bought iPads rave about them, but I rarely, if ever, see them using the device.

The answer is always "I surf the web on the couch while watching TV" - ok, I can see some value there, but not enough to warrant a £400+ price tag!

So now we have what looks like a decent 7" tablet with a £160 price tag hitting the market - I tell you what, *now* I'm interested.

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