In comments widely interpreted as dismissing the rumors of a 7-inch iPad 2G, Steve Jobs is saying that "the current crop of seven-inch tablets are going to be DOA - dead on arrival." In a clear reference to smaller tablets by companies like RIM, Samsung and Dell, Jobs told reporters and analysts listening in on a conference call
announcing Apple's fourth fiscal quarter financial results that the touch interface on smaller tablets would be too hard to control, joking that they would have to ship with sandpaper "so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size."
Rumors of the smaller iPad have been out since before the original iPad was shipped, and have been increasing in recent months as the production cycle for the second generation iPad has begun to ramp up, and the perennial gossips at Taiwan's DigiTimes have repeatedly asserted
that a 7-inch iPad is in the works
. Other reports have leaked out of the leaky Asian supply chain
seemingly validating this rumor. Jobs's remarks, however, seem to dispel those rumors, as well as previewing the marketing rhetoric Apple will deploy against the smaller competitors.
"Seven-inch tablets," Jobs said, "are 'tweeners' - too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad," He explained how difference between seven and ten inches in terms of screen real estate is deceptive: "The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a seven-inch screen is only 45 per cent as large as iPad's 10-inch screen. You heard me right," he added for effect in typical Jobs style, "just 45 per cent as large." Heading off the counter-argument that you could just increase pixel density like you would to get 1024x780 on a netbook screen, Jobs argued that this had its own risks. "While one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference," he allowed, "it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size... there are clear limits on how close you can physically place elements on a touchscreen before users cannot reliably tap, flick, or pinch them."
While bashing the form factor, Steve Jobs didn't miss the opportunity to take a shot at Google, whose Android 2.2 OS will power virtually all of these erstwhile competitors. "Even Google is telling tablet companies to wait for a new release of Android next year," he said. "What does it mean when software supplier says not to use software for tablets, and what does this mean when you ignore them and use it anyway?"
One should remember that this was marketing talk, delivered to people in the industry, and that Jobs himself used to mock tablets as being good for nothing but surfing the Web while in the bathroom
. However, it wouldn't make much sense to cut down a product you'd be releasing in just a few months as "magical," so it's a safe bet that we won't see the mini-iPad for a couple of years... if ever.