When he was alive, Steve Jobs was very outspoken about his disdain for smaller sized tablets. He referred to 7-inch tablets as "tweeners" noting that they're "too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad." Sure, you could bump up the resolution in a 7-inch device, but that too would be "meaningless, unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of the present size." Jobs, at least outwardly, viewed 10-inch screens as "the minimum size to create great tablet apps." Yet despite all his rhetoric, there may have been more truth to the 7-inch iPad rumors than some people realize.
One of the side effects of Apple's
aggressive pursuit to pulverize Samsung in court over patent infringement claims is that all kinds of evidence gets put into public view. One such piece of evidence is a January 2011 email Samsung
submitted that shows Apple vice president Eddie Cue pitching a 7-inch tablet to Tim Cook, who at the time was the chief operating officer.
"There will be a 7-inch market and we should do one. I expressed this to Steve several times since Thanksgiving and he seemed very receptive the last time," Cue wrote in the email. "I found email, books, Facebook, and video very compelling on a 7-inch. Web browsing is definitely the weakest point, but still usable."
Cue also forwarded an article titled "Why I Just Dumped the iPad (Hint: Size Matters)" and said that after using a Samsung Galaxy, he agreed with many of the points the author made.
Given what was going on behind the scenes, it's a little weird that Steve Jobs ended up blasting 7-inch tablets towards the end of 2011. Perhaps it wasn't the form factor he was truly attacking, but Samsung, which was looking to be a major player in the 7-inch space. The animosity between Apple and Samsung may have driven Jobs to try and discredit 7-inch slates, but that strategy no longer works now that Amazon and Google have proven there's definitely a market for tablets smaller than the iPad. Does that mean an iPad Mini is in the cards? To quote Kevin Garnett, "Anything is possible."