updated 06:50 pm EDT, Mon October 18, 2010
Jobs says 7-inch tablet too small, Android poor
Apple chief Steve Jobs during a surprise appearance in the company's summer 2010 results call explained much of the company's strategy on tablets and dismissed seven-inch tablets, Android tablets as well as any prospect of a seven-inch iPad. He claimed that the size was too small to create viable tablet apps as it provided less than half the screen area of a 9.7-inch tablet like the iPad. Seven inches cuts down on the number of elements you can put on screen and would only work if you could make your own fingers smaller, Jobs said.
"It's meaningless [to go to seven inches] unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size," he said.
He saw efforts to shrink tablets down to pocket size, such as the five-inch Dell Streak and seven-inch Galaxy Tab, as being ineffective partly because many already have iPhones and iPods that fit better. About 10 inches was the "minimum" for a good tablet experience, the CEO explained. Many of these companies were going to produce tablets that were "dead on arrival" and would have to come back later with 10-inch models.
The smaller tablets don't have cost advantages even when they have reduced features, he added. Apple's integration meant it could keep the iPad's price down where others had to buy through middlemen that raised the costs.
Jobs took additional time to single out Android. There are "zero" apps that are tablet-optimized, he claimed. Flash, an advantage of Android, also wasn't a factor since much of Internet video was now HTML5. Android fragmentation would be an issue as well since developers would have to accommodate different sizes. When even Google was warning against Android 2.2 tablets, that didn't bode well for companies that were ignoring the advice and going ahead anyways, the Apple chief said.
At the same time, he touted Apple's own long-term prospects in the field. Just as Apple won in iPods through "relentless improvement," it could do the same in tablets. He pointed out that iPads were already outselling Macs after two quarters and that it was "not a question of if, but a question of when" tablets were going to bite deeply into the notebook market. Education, and surprisingly business, were seeing very quick uptake, while everyone was helped by familiarity with the iPhone and iPod to get used to the experience.
"The more time passes, the more I'm convinced we've got the tiger by the tail," he said.