Well, that’s that. I kind of had my hopes up for an iPad “suite” including a smaller and larger device, but no less a personage than Steve Jobs himself has dismissed any idea of there being a smaller iPad than the one currently on the market. Or rather, he suggested that they’ll work fine if they come with sandpaper to file your fingers down to the size needed to make a 7″ tablet usable. Tell us how you really feel, Steve.
Yes, he had less than kind words for the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, which he derided as “tweeners,” criticism echoing my own from before the iPad’s debut. Their limited app selection also came under fire, and the conclusion was that these tablets will be “DOA.” I couldn’t agree more, though considering the many valid criticisms of the iPad, I would phrase it perhaps as Churchill might have: “The iPad is the worst tablet available, except for every other one on the market.”
I mean honestly, the iPad’s competition is a rabble, beneath notice, a mishmash of compromise devices running an OS not intended for large or even medium-sized screens. You know this is true, even of the top-tier ones like the Galaxy Tab. That said, the next few months will bring Android 3.0, webOS, Windows 7 tablets, and more, which will provide actual competition for Apple. The coalescing of Android under 2.2 and 3.0 will be a solidifying for for everyone’s favorite fragmented OS.
Jobs stressed the idea that “integrated will trump fragmented every time,” and it’s true that Apple has done quite a good job of keeping iOS and OS X versions tightly grouped, though the resolution thing is starting to look like trouble. That was actually one of the theoretical benefits of transitioning the iPad platform to a 16:9 aspect ratio — but apparently the trade-offs in usability were too great for Apple to sign off on it. I have my suspicions about what’s in the cards for this come OS X 10.7, but all that can wait until Wednesday.
So does this mean that for Apple displays, 3.5 inches is a hard ceiling, and 10.1 inches a hard floor? I’d say yes, if only because Jobs would look like a chump if they did anything else, as they’ve made such a big deal about how these are the two Goldilocks zones for mobile and tablet forms. Personally, I think they’re pretty good sizes, so apart from new OSes, improvements to weight, durability, and other portability metrics will be the principal improvements to the tablet platform for now.
With all that being said, this week’s OS X event may enlighten us a bit more as to Apple’s roadmap for iOS devices. We’ll be covering that live, of course, so tune in Wednesday morning and find out as we do.