In today’s tablet market there are two types of devices – the iPad, and everything else. While every device that has attempted to counter the 10 inch iPad has been met with relative failure, there appears to be a new tablet size demand on the horizon: 7 inches.
A Gathering of Androids
Arguably the most popular Android tablet to date is the Kindle Fire, and it sports a 7 inch screen. While the Fire is not a true Android tablet (it runs a modified core, complete with its own app store), it nonetheless proves that the form factor is finding a willing market.
Of course, we need to mention that the strong up and coming Google Nexus 7 is, just like it is named, a 7 inch tablet. In fact, so much is made of the size that it has factored into the name of the device itself. Apparently Google really wants you to know that, hey, this is indeed a 7 inch tablet.
Then there is Samsung with their Galaxy Tab 7 inch tablet. While it wasn’t a runaway hit in its first go-around, the Galaxy Tab 2.0 7 inch tablet is new and competing for space in the tablet market. While Google and Kindle are expected to be the top of the 7 inch Android tablet heap, you simply cannot count out Samsung, with its strong products and large customer base.
Don’t Forget the Nook
Of course, it isn’t just the Kindle Fire and the Android tablets that are celebrating the 7 inch form factor. Barnes and Noble has a – you guessed it – 7 inch version of its Nook reader. While the Nook doesn’t have access to the full Android store or other goodies you might find on the Kindle, it is nonetheless a capable, popular tablet. And the Nook is carefully aimed for the 7 inch market.
A New Tablet Submarket
A casual observer may come to the conclusion that Apple has beaten all of the competitors in the 10 inch arena, so they are building their own arena, namely the 7 inch one. And since iPads come in one size – 10 inches – it would seem that this would be a safe place to market.
Apple Joining the 7 Inch Race
But if new rumors are to be believed, Apple is planning on releasing its own 7 inch contender this fall. This would no doubt be a strong option for those wanting that form factor in their tablet choices.
Now, Apple is no stranger to the 7 inch tablet size. Early on in the development of the iPad, Apple had such models for internal testing. In fact, it was Steve Jobs himself that came to the conclusion that 10 inches was the optimal size for a touch screen tablet. According to Jobs, the 7 inch test tablet was good for nothing “besides surfing the web in the bathroom”.
While it would seem that Apple building a 7 inch tablet would be going against the sage wisdom of its founder, you do have to remember that Apple’s main goal with the iPad was to build a tablet market. The iPad succeeded, but it had to be just right in order to accomplish that. Now, with a new 7 inch submarket, it would seem that Apple has the luxury of exploring that one as well.
Why 7 Inches?
It might be good to ask that question. Why is everyone apparently being moved to the 7 inch market? The 10 inch tablet seems like a good fit as compared to a typical piece of paper. It also compares well with a printed magazine or hardcover book.
But not everyone carried around a hardcover book in the pre-ebook days. A lot of people enjoyed carrying a paperback book for quick reading at their convenience. They were small enough to be stuck in any number of places, and yet provided a good experience for reading.
That same sentiment seems to be carrying forward to today’s tablets. There are a growing number of consumers that are adopting the tablet, but want them to go places where the paperback went before. And the 7 inch form factor is a close fit.
As the tablet wars progress, it seems that the 7 inch battle field will be the site of the next battle. But like the paperback novel of yesteryear, one thing is certain – it has to be cheaper than the bigger version. This is a lesson that the Android makers have accepted, with prices hovering around the $200 dollar range. If Apple does enter this race, it will be interesting to see if it can remember that little fact. And if it can, a $200 iPad just might prove to be its most popular yet. Let the battle commence!