Back in 2010, Steve Jobs famously compared the 7-inch tablet form factor to the practicality of sanding down someone’s fingers. To Jobs, the average human finger would have to be shrunk by about 25% in order to properly interact with 7-inch tablet apps. “This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps,” said Jobs. It was one of those classic moments that showed his intense commitment to Apple’s idea of the ultimate user experience.
Fast forward to today, and Apple still has a thing or two to say about 7-inch tablets. Don’t let the smallness of the iPad mini fool you, Apple is firmly against 7-inch tablets because they are vastly inferior to 8-inch tablets. Apparently one inch makes all the difference.
During today’s earnings call, Tim Cook answered a question about why Apple decided to make the iPad mini. During the iPad mini’s unveiling earlier this week, Phil Schiller made sure to point out that the new tablet’s display is 7.9-inches, not a measly 7-inches like the Google Nexus 7. Schiller then proceeded to demo how much more roomy and friendly the iPad mini was for surfing the web. “There is a gigantic difference in these products,” proclaimed Schiller.
“We would not make a 7-inch tablet,” said Cook today. “We don’t think they are good products.” In Apple’s mind, the 0.9-inch difference between the iPad mini and Nexus 7 means a 35% gain in screen real estate. And somehow the iPad mini’s 7.9-inch display means an added 50%-67% in “usable area” when compared with a 7-inch display.
Apple’s official pitch for the iPad mini’s display:
The iPad mini display stands out in all the right ways. It has the same 1024-by-768 resolution as iPad 2 — in a size that’s significantly smaller. So everything looks incredibly crisp and sharp. And since the iPad mini display has 35 percent more screen area than a 7-inch tablet, everything is easier to read and interact with. The iPad mini display is also designed to take greater advantage of every pixel. So apps, magazines, and documents fill the screen, from top to bottom and edge to edge. In portrait and in landscape.
The iPad mini is “in a whole different league” and “isn’t a compromised product like the 7-inch tablets,” according to Cook. As usual, Apple releases the highest quality product while simultaneously discrediting all of its competition in one fell swoop. In this case, the difference between heaven and hell is one inch.