Smaller iPad talk resurfaces, but Apple won't be tempted, say experts

CEO Tim Cook doesn't address rumors, intimates 7-in. Kindle Fire is a 'limited function...product'

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"There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touch screen," Jobs said. "This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps."

Jobs dismissed the smaller screen size, saying that the then-expected crop of 7-in. tablets would be "DOA, Dead on Arrival," that their makers would "learn a painful lesson that their tablets are too small," and recommended OEMs considering that size screen include sandpaper with their devices "so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of the present size."

"When Apple takes a stand on something, whether it's tablet screen size or a one-mouse button, it tends to be pretty stubborn about it," said Dulaney.

Yesterday, current CEO Tim Cook seemed to channel his former leader and reiterate Jobs' determination to stick with a 10.7-in. screen for the iPad.

During a conference call hosted by investment firm Goldman Sachs, Cook knocked what he called "cheap tablets," effectively throwing cold water on a smaller iPad, which many have assumed Apple will ship because it would be less expensive, and thus able to compete more directly with Amazon's $200 Kindle Fire.

"A cheap product might sell some units and somebody may get it home and you know, they feel great when they pay from their wallets, but then they get it home and use it, and the joy is gone," said Cook, according to a transcript of the call published by CNN.

More to the point, Cook acknowledged Amazon's success, but then knocked the rival's Kindle Fire. "The customers that we're designing our products for are not going to be satisfied with a limited function kind of product," Cook said.

Cook also noted that Jobs' influence remains strong at Apple, bolstering the argument that the company won't add a differently-sized tablet to its line-up. "Steve [Jobs] grilled in all of us, over many years, that the company should revolve around great products, and that we should stay extremely focused on few things rather than try to do so many that we did nothing well," he said.

Dulaney, like other pundits, expects Apple to tackle the cost issue, not by offering a smaller iPad, but by continuing to sell the iPad 2 at a lower price after the newest model is released.

"I think they'll do what they've done with the iPhone, which is to dramatically lower the price of the older model to have a cheaper choice," Dulaney said.

Although Apple launched the iPhone 4S last October, it slashed the iPhone 4's price by half, and offered the even-older iPhone 3GS for free.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more articles by Gregg Keizer.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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