In public, Steve Jobs dumped all over the idea of a 7" iPad. AppleInsider quoted him two years ago as saying, "The reason we [won't] make a 7-inch tablet isn't because we don't want to hit that price point, it's because we think the screen is too small to express the software." Was it all just clever misdirection?
We'll never know for sure, but as The Verge reports, an internal e-mail released as part of the Apple v. Samsung case suggest Jobs was actually enthusiastic about the prospect of a smaller tablet. The internal e-mail was sent on January 24, 2011 by Eddy Cue, Apple's Senior VP of Internet Software and Services, to Steve Jobs, Scott Forstall, and Tim Cook. It references a GigaOM editorial, whose author claimed to have dumped his iPad in favor of Samsung's 7" Galaxy Tab.
"Having used a Samsung Galaxy, I tend to agree with many of the comments below (except actually moving off the iPad)," says Cue in the e-mail. "I believe there will be a 7" market and we should do one. I expressed this to Steve several times since Thanksgiving and he seemed very receptive the last time. I found email, books, facebook and video very compelling on a 7". Web browsing is definitely the weakest point, but still usable."
Perhaps it's no coincidence that rumors about an iPad mini have been intensifying as of late. A recent story by iMore says Apple will unveil the iPad mini alongside the iPhone 5 at a special event on September 21. The device is said to feature a 7.85" panel and to have the same 4:3 aspect ratio as the existing iPad.