With all this insane set of rumors regarding Apple's possible 7-inch tablet, I've had a lot of people approach me with same questions: Will it happen? Or will it make sense? The form-factor, even though practical for many of us, has proven to be unsuccessful when compared to the 10-inch tablets in the market. I, for one, was reluctant to adopt it simply because the experience was cropped when compared to what you get with a 10-inch tablet. It's only logical that Apple may discard the idea out of the fact that nobody has figured it out, but on the other hand, if you remember how the iPod, iPhone and even the iPad came to be, you'll know that Apple is all about fixing what's broken.
The iPod was born when MP3 players were either too big or too expensive, the iPhone when smartphones were sadly not too smart, and the iPad when tablets had spent almost a decade without relevance. Making an even smaller iPad makes a lot of sense if we consider the four different variants that Apple has released for their iPod. As technology evolves, it shrinks, and there are a ton of reasons why Apple would prefer to cannibalize their own 10-inch iPad before somebody else figures it out.
What makes this whole concept interesting though, is that a 7-inch tablet is, in a way, a different product on its own.
Have you ever used one? I've owned all three variants of the iPad, and I also own a Kindle Touch. I'm sure you're asking yourself why would I ever buy an e-ink reader if I already own the best screen on any tablet in the world with the new iPad. The answer to that has everything to do with convenience. When was the last time you ever held or read a book that weighed 1.46 pounds? Have you ever tried to make a line at a bank while reading on your iPad just like you'd do with a paperback book? As much as I love my new iPad, I simply can't substitute a book for it, where in the case of Amazon's Kindle Touch, I get a gadget that's in cases much smaller or even lighter than a book. The reason why I jumped to the Nexus 7 without thought was because for the first time there was a tablet that was good enough and cheap enough to substitute all the books and those two gadgets into just one very good product.
When it comes to gaming, it's a similar story. Even if the iPad holds the gyro that I heavily enjoy for some hardcore gaming, have you ever tried holding a 1.46-pound tablet in the air for more than five minutes? I'm sure you and I will agree that even though 10-inch tablets are better at web browsing and reading both magazines and comics, they simply aren't convenient for hard-core reading or gaming.
The whole idea of a 7-inch tablet made by Apple makes more sense than you'd think and here's why:
It's a true iBook
I know this is not year 1999, and I also know that Apple already had a product called the iBook. But just like Motorola refreshed their RAZR a year ago, this is the perfect time to refresh the name with its true meaning. Apple has patented a couple of concepts where they're trying to create a hybrid e-ink display that's powered by LED technology, so there's room to create something really good here.
Then there's Apple's iBooks Store, which while good, still hasn't taken off. Before anybody argues with me on this, I don't have any factual figures to validate my statement, but since I've seen more Apple keynotes than I'm proud of, the fact that they rarely ever announce their results is what leads me to believe that the numbers have sucked. If the iPad has been the most successful tablet in history (so far) and this hasn't been enough for their iBooks to takeoff, then the problem is the product and not the service.
If Apple were to succeed in producing a much smaller and lighter tablet that's far better than an eReader and is priced aggressively, then they've got another winning post-pc product that's separate and unique in it's own way, even though they won't be the first to produce one, just like they haven't with everything else they've made. For this reason alone, the name should be the iBook.
It would destroy portable game consoles
How big is a PS-Vita, or even the old PSP? Surely a 7-inch tablet is larger than any of these game consoles, but it also fits in the back pocket of your jeans just as well. There's no denying that iOS products have demolished the margins of even TV game consoles, but there's also no denying that they've reached this success with the wrong tools.
The iPhone is too small, and the iPad is definitely too big for comfortable gaming. A well-priced 7-inch tablet would land the sweet spot when it comes to solving the needs of even the most demanding gamers. The fact that Apple has pushed their A5X processor with quad-core graphics to provide an even better experience just makes it better. But what really matters in this whole combo of a successful product is the fact that all the games that I already own for my iPhone and iPad will work on their new 7-inch tablet. I’d have the option to choose where to play, and when to play.
The bottom line
It all narrows down to your need for a tablet. Even if all you do is want it and don't really need it, that doesn't change the fact that you either have one or are getting one soon. Which tablet would you choose?
It would be hard for me to drop my use of the current iPad simply because I love to read magazines and I do a ton of web browsing and even writing with it. My biggest problem is that there are cases where I don't feel the experience to be any different or better to when I use my MacBook Air. My other big problem is that I read more books than I do magazines, and that I already own a ton of games that just sit in both my iPad and my iPhone because I find the experience too cumbersome on either of both products.
After using the Nexus 7 for a couple of weeks, I'm now convinced that the 7-inch form factor makes sense. All Apple needs to do is price it right, and I'm sure many of you will join me in being in line for their next product launch. Whether they use my idea of calling it the iBook or not, who cares, what's important is that they release it and give us all a choice.
Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments down below.