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IPad mini: Steve Jobs would just say no

April 18, 2012|By Michelle Maltais
  • Steve Jobs, holding an iPad in January 2010, wouldn't make an iPad mini.
Steve Jobs, holding an iPad in January 2010, wouldn't make an iPad… (Paul Sakuma / Associated…)

Chatter about an iPad mini just won't settle. Another analyst just added fuel to this hot-air balloon with a note to clients. But revisiting Steve Jobs' take on going smaller might just deflate some of this speculation.

This week, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu wrote that a 7- or 8-inch screen with resolution that's comparable to the first- and second-generation iPads is feasible, according to Barron's. "From a competitive standpoint, we believe an iPad mini with a lower price point would be the competition’s worst nightmare," Wu wrote. "We believe a lower-priced iPad mini would make it even more difficult for the competition to gain traction."

But that doesn't fit with what Steve Jobs said over the years. What did Steve say? Size matters.

On an earnings call in October 2010, Jobs addressed the issue of smaller screens, which he declared DOA -- dead on arrival.

"One naturally thinks that a 7-inch screen would offer 70% of the benefits of a 10-inch screen," he said. "Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a 7-inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad's 10-inch screen. You heard me right; just 45% as large."

He went on to say, "If you take an iPad and hold it upright in portrait view and draw an imaginary horizontal line halfway down the screen, the screens on the 7-inch tablets are a bit smaller than the bottom half of the iPad display. This size isn't sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion."

Usability was another aspect he addressed. Even if you increased the resolution, Jobs said, "It is meaningless, unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of the present size....There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touch screen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them."

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iPad mini: Steve Jobs would just say no

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