Tim Cook recently had some harsh words for the Microsoft Surface tablet, but he also addressed Steve Jobs’ comments on 7-inch tablets back in 2010. Jobs had this to say of 2010′s 7-inch lineup:
“Apple’s done extensive user-testing on touch interfaces over many years, and we really understand this stuff….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. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps … The 7-inch tablets are tweeners, too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad” said Jobs, in October of 2010.
To be fair, although he’d be wrong to say this about 7-inch tablets today, he wasn’t wrong in 2010. They were pretty much DOA.
“On your question about iPad Mini, the comments you’re referencing are comments Steve had made before about 7-inch tablets. Let me be clear, we would not make a 7-inch tablet, we don’t think they’re good products. One of the reasons is size. The difference on just the real estate size is almost 30 percent. When you look at the usable area, it’s much greater than that, it’s 50 to 67 percent. The iPad Mini has the same number of pixels as iPad 2 does, so you have access to all 275,000 apps that are in our App Store that have been custom designed to take advantage of the full canvas. iPad Mini is a fantastic product, it’s not a compromised product like the 7-inch tablets” Cook responded.
Cook also said that the iPad mini is in a “whole different league”, and with 275,000 curated iPad apps available, I get where he’s coming from. There are many examples of iPad apps that have been fully optimized, compared to Android tablet apps that have simply been scaled up. The majority of Android apps are not optimized for tablet use yet, and they are simply being scaled up, which is a huge waste of space and provides a less compelling experience. It remains to be seen what Windows 8 for the Surface RT and Surface Pro will bring to the table in terms of the app market, but I suspect they will fair better than Google in terms of optimization.
Twitter for iPad is tablet-optimized, whereas Twitter for Android tablets is scaled up.
On screen size, however, I just don’t think that 0.9″ really makes that much of a difference. To go by that logic, the iPhone 5 is providing a drastically inferior experience to the one found on the Galaxy Nexus, Samsung Galaxy S III, and the litany of other large-screened Android phones. It seems like Cook is willing to downplay the actual specs – such as processor and pixel density – and go straight to screen size, as long as it suits his position. Are those Android phones better than the iPhone 5 simply because their screens are larger? In my opinion, no. I also do not believe the iPad mini is better than the Nexus 7 or other tablets due to its larger screen size.
The Nexus 7 has a faster processor, a sharper screen, and it costs $129 less than the iPad mini. Is 0.9″ of screen real estate really worth $129 more? Probably not. Apple’s massive library of tablet-optimized apps, however, may be worth a great deal to you.
What do you think about Cook’s comments? Do you think they hold any water, given the comparison between the iPhone 5 and competing phones? Let us know in the comments!