Steve Jobs once said that the 3.5 inch screen is just the right size for a mobile – big enough to produce detailed, legible graphics, but small enough to fit comfortably in the hand and pocket. He argued that no one will buy phone with larger screens. What did we see with iPhone 5? A large 4 inch screen! iPhone 5 did have direct inputs from Steve.
Then comes the 7 inch tablet argument. He argued that 7 inch devices are destined to fail. He said; it’s better read in his words:
“Apple’s done extensive user-testing on touch interfaces over many years, and we really understand this stuff. There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touch screen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps.”
“The seven-inch tablets are tweeners, too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad. One naturally thinks that a seven-inch screen would offer 70% of the benefits of a 10-inch screen. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a seven-inch screen is only 45% as large as iPad’s 10-inch screen. You heard me right; just 45% as large. [Increasing screen resolution on small devices] is meaningless, unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of the present size.”
And now the iPad Mini is here. It comes with 7 inch(ish) screen. Apple does it again – contradicting itself by creating a device with a form factor it vehemently argued against. Should we cry foul for Apple not practicing what it preached? HELL NO! Change is constant. There’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, it happens to be the personality trait of smart and successful people. Let me quote Jeff Bezos
“People who were right a lot of the time were people who often changed their minds.”
Jeff observed that the smartest people are constantly revising their understanding and re-considering a problem they’d already solved. They’re open to new points of view, new information, new ideas, contradictions, and challenges to their own way of thinking. Jeff’s right. Steve Jobs was one such guy. And Apple is a company led by such people. So don’t fuss about contradicting yourself, go ahead, absorb new information, change your opinions – it happens to the best of us.
I’m concluding this post with Tim Cook’s thought on Microsoft’s effort to combine a tablet and laptop.
“You can converge a toaster and a refrigerator, but those aren’t going to be pleasing to the user.”
Following Apple’s past of changing beliefs, don’t be surprised if you see an iToaster with Retina display in the next keynote 🙂