Tablets Need to Get Smaller and Phones Need to Get Bigger

By Deane Barker on March 4, 2013

Did Steve Jobs Pick the Wrong Tablet Size?: Interesting discussion over at Slashdot.

Steve Jobs famously dissed the 7-inch tablets being rolled out by competitors, including Samsung’s Galaxy, as being ‘tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the [9.7-inch diagonal] iPad,’ adding that ‘the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA — dead on arrival.’ A year later Jobs was dead, and the iPad Mini, with a 7.9-inch diagonal screen, was rolled out under his successor Tim Cook in October, 2012

Given the wild success of the iPad, it’s hard to say Apple did anything “wrong,” but I think the market is clearly stating that smaller tablets are better.

For me, the iPad was too big.  My 7” Kindle Fire HD is perfect – it will fit into the front pocket of my North Face jacket (even zipped up), or into the inside pocket of a sport coat.  I even have a pair of jeans that will fit it in the front pocket.

I can take it anywhere, without having to really be “carrying” anything, and if there’s some detriment to the smaller screen, I have yet to find it.  If you have a 10” tablet, I’m going to suggest that you could switch to a 7” with zero negative loss in functionality or experience and a huge upside in portability. The smaller size will change the very nature of the device for you, and how it fits into your life.

(My kids have an original iPad, and I was teaching them how to play Solitaire last night.  We were passing it back and forth between us, and it just seemed archaically huge, like my big laptop from five years ago feels now.)

What’s even more interesting is that Apple may have gotten the size of their phones wrong too.  The iPhone is an undeniable success, but they’re getting bigger, as are all phones.  The iPhone 5 went to 4”, but Samsung is making a killing with the Galaxy Nexus (4.65”), the Galaxy S3 (4.8”), and the Galaxy Note II (5.55”).

My next “phone” will be so in name only.  What I need is a small tablet that will work as a phone when I need it to, which is rarely – maybe 1-2 times a week.  I take and make virtually no phone calls.  My primary means of communication from my device is texting, but I use it mainly for email.

Hello, Galaxy Note.