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Cook: the iPad mini is not a 7-inch tablet ... it's better

updated 09:04 pm EDT, Thu October 25, 2012

'We would never make' them for a variety of reasons

During the conference call with analysts earlier on Thursday, Apple's CFO Peter Oppenheimer and CEO Tim Cook talked in more detail about both the pricing of the new iPad mini as well as what distinguishes it from its competitors. Near the end of the call, Cook elegantly bridged the seeming disparity of former CEO Steve Jobs' disparaging comments about 7-inch tablets and Apple's current view, both by pointing out that the iPad mini isn't really in that class (it is 7.9 inches, significantly larger than most others) and that it is a no-compromises product.

Earlier in the call, Oppenheimer had been asked about a disparity of perceptions on the pricing. He had earlier referred to Apple selling the iPad mini at a "significantly reduced margin" compared to most other Apple products, saying it had been "priced aggressively." When an analyst said that some public reaction was that the price was not aggressive in light of Amazon's Kindle HD or Galaxy Nexus 7 (which start at $199 for the most basic model), he said the iPad mini was not "a small, cheap tablet," but rather that it was the full iPad 2 experience miniaturized.

Oppenheimer pointed out that the larger screen on the iPad mini (35 percent larger than a seven-inch tablet, giving a usability area up to 50 percent larger) was a significant factor that buyers would clearly see over its competitors. He also noted that the iPad mini comes with two full cameras, a hi-resolution back camera and an "HD" Facetime camera on the front, whereas both of the others have only one camera that is not as high-quality as the iPad mini's back camera.

The iPad mini also features dual-band (5GHz and 2.4GHz) Wi-Fi and a 3G/LTE option, and uses the A5 chip which is significantly faster than the chips used in low-end tablets, and even competes with quad-core Tegra chips. Finally, Oppenheimer said, the fit and finish of the all-metal unibody construction is an obvious distinguishing factor when customers can see and feel the devices.

Cook added his comments later, when asked about the "debate" over the form factor of the iPad mini, a reference to Jobs' remarks that a 7-inch screen was "too small" to be truly useful as a tablet, that icons and other information would be too small to see and touch as effectively (and at the time Jobs make the remarks, that was arguably true) and that one of his one executives, Eddy Cue, had written a later memo saying that the experience of using a 7-inch Android tablet hadn't been bad except for web surfing.

Cook quickly emphasized that the iPad wasn't really in the same class as true 7-inch tablets, since the screen was so much larger than a 7-inch and because the iPad mini had the same (lower, which means text and icons appear larger) resolution as the iPad 2. He noted also that unlike the competing tablets, the iPad mini had access to all 275,000-plus iPad-only apps and could also use most of the 500,000 iPhone apps through pixel doubling. The usable size is even more significant than the 35 percent physically larger screen, he said.

Based on these factors, Cook made his case that Jobs had been and remains correct: the seven-inch form factor isn't right for a distinct-from-phone, high-quality experience. "We don't think they [7-inch screen tablets] are good products," he said. "[Apple] could not make a 7-inch tablet ... we [still] would never make one."

by MacNN Staff



  1. Wiskedjak

    Posting Junkie

    Joined: 06-04-02

    The iPad Mini could've been 7.1", and the Reality Distortion Field would still enable them to say "The iPad Mini isn't a 7 inch tablet".

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    I'm not disagreeing with you on that point, but in actual fact that extra inch does make a lot of difference: 35 percent larger screen is a substantial difference.

    To put this another way: The difference between the 21.5" iMac and the 27" iMac is 5.5 inches -- or roughly 30 percent.

  1. mnemosyne

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-26-12

    Cook's funny. I took a look at that link. This is just the Reality Distortion Field in high gear. You've got Apple executives themselves saying the 7" Galaxy Tab isn't that bad, but since Apple is entering the sector, all other companies have to have failed miserably.

    And if you're going to point out the parts where the iPad mini has an advantage, why not show the other side of the coin, huh? The iPad mini loses in resolution to all of its main competitors. In ppi, it's not even a contest.

    So yeah, the iPad mini has a bigger screen, big whoop. It's also probably outperformed by the Nexus 7. The N7 consistently scores over 1300 on Geekbench, while the iPad 2 scores in the mid-700s. Apple's basically said the mini is basically a shrunk down iPad 2, so...

    It's just annoying to see people breathlessly reporting whatever Cook says as the gospel truth for computing. He's just a guy trying to sell a product. Of course Apple doesn't like the 7-inch tablets: they're not Apple tablets! But you can tell Apple is shaken up by the success of their competition. Why else would Cook have had a Nexus 7 on screen for comparison?

  1. mac_in_tosh

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 12-14-11

    Why couldn't he just say "due to changing market conditions, newer technology etc., we decided the time was right for a 7-inch tablet." To make a significant distinction between 7 and 7.9 inches is ridiculous. It's hard to believe I am reading Cook's actual words as opposed to a YouTube spoof of an Apple ad.

    Might as well get Ives to pontificate about how there's a threshold somewhere between 7 and 7.9 inches that the iPad mini takes advantage of to make it far more magical than those pedestrian 7-inch tablets.

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