Steve Jobs was wrong: Why the 7-inch tablet is king

“Back in 2010, Steve Jobs scoffed at the ‘current crop of seven-inch tablets,’ calling them ‘dead on arrival,'” Ben Taylor writes for TIME. “‘There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touchscreen before users can reliably tap, flick, or pinch them,’ he said on an October earnings call. ‘This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.’

“What a difference three years makes. The 7.85-inch iPad Mini has been a runaway success, and the new iPad Mini with Retina Display seems poised to become the company’s best-selling tablet,” Taylor writes. “Surely even Jobs would now admit that the 7.85-inch Mini deserves its place in Apple’s tablet lineup.”

“That said, Jobs’ poor instincts might actually go a level deeper,” Taylor writes. “Not only have 7-inch tablets proven their worth—they might just be the superior tablet size, period. First, there are the sales numbers, where the iPad Mini has reportedly cannibalized its bigger brother faster than Apple expected. Next, there’s feedback from users.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Steve Jobs said a lot of things for competitive purposes.

Plus, Apple’s iPad mini has a 7.9-inch display boasting 29.96 sq. inches of display area. That is 36% larger than Google’s plastic Nexus 7’s tiny 7-inch display’s 22.02 sq. inches. That’s right, Google’s Nexus 7 offers a display that’s just 73.5% of Apple’s iPad mini.

Steve Jobs was talking about 7-inch tablets with the wrong aspect ratios as being poor tablets, not 7.85-inch iPads with the proper aspect ratio.

The king of the “mini” tablets is Apple’s iPad mini with Retina display. Period.

Apple iPad mini 7.9-inch display area vs. Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD display area
Apple iPad mini 7.9-inch display area vs. Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD display area

[UPDATE: 10:178pm EST: Corrected percentage to “73.5%.”


  1. I agree with MDN’s take but the math is wrong. Yes, the iPad mini is 36% bigger than the 7 inchers. But those devices are 73.5% the size of the iPad mini, not 64%. Scaling up vs. scaling down.

  2. half the people liked the mini better due to WEIGHT!!! WEIGHT… has that changed? yes it has – NOW WATCH AIR FLY OFF THE SHELVES! if you have a choice would you not choose bigger if the product is light enough to carry? Yes I think so…

      1. Mini is still lighter. Easier to hold one handed. When I upgrade my iPad 2, it will be to a mini with a larger capacity.

        That said,I will still have my iPad 3 for the family.

    1. Gavin – Agreed.
      I own an iPhone, an iPad2, and an iMac. What in the world would I need an iPad mini for? When I am on the go I use my iPhone. When I am at home I use the iPad2, occasionally I use the iMac (which is why I haven’t retired my 2006 intel iMac yet.) I have no use for a mini. If you are a droid phone sufferer then I could see the appeal of the mini to take on the go with you, but I really have no need for a mini. When I upgrade the iPad2, I will definitely go iPad Air. I like the screen size, the only issue I have with my iPad2 is the weight, otherwise I love it!

  3. Thank you for fucking up the only remaining app I loved in iOS 7 – iBooks. Thank you motherfuckers for fucking up iBooks to the level of fucking shit that exemplifies iOS 7. Fuck you turds. Fuck you Ive.

  4. Steve said a lot of things to deflect attention away from what they had in the works. I’ve watched a lot of his old interviews, some if which, he was obviously trying to mislead the competition. He was a brilliant man and strategist.

    1. I don’t see it as deflecting attention away, but more like acknowledging that more work was needed than simply resizing the screen (which is what the competition was doing at the time).

  5. Dont forget that the entry price for the Apple eco-system is another major decision to make. I bet if the Air was closer in price to the mini a significant number would take he screen with the real estate over the size of pouch required !

  6. I remember well when Jobs said that video content would not come to the iPod. He said something to the effect: “Can you imagine people walking while looking at a video/movie on an iPod and walk into a post or car?”

    In hind site, we can see that of course he was deflecting the conversation away from what they were working on at the moment.

    This is common with many companies in new product development. Not all broadcast in advance what they are “going” to do. Henry Ford: “You can’t build a reputation upon what you are going to do.”

  7. Some people have argued that the nexus 7 is better for watching movies as it has a 16:9 aspect ratio.
    When the mini displays such movies it has to “waste” some parts of the screen, i.e. black bands on top and bellow the picture.
    Guess what, movies are still displayed in a bigger area on the mini, this is because the nexus screen fits completely in the mini’s screen

  8. Back in 2010, Steve Jobs was trying to sell Apple’s 10-inch table. He “scoffed at” the 7-inch (and smaller) table available from the competition AT THAT TIME. And he was right; they were terrible. He never said Apple would not create a tablet smaller than the original 10-inch size.

  9. Well, isn’t this interesting… picking on a man’s ideas who’s not among us to defend himself. Despite this article, SJ may still not agree with the screen size, even if it does eventually become successful. I fear that the author just doesn’t have all the facts to pass judgement.

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