Thursday, November 15, 2012

Why Steve Jobs was wrong on the iPad Mini

I have always been a big admirer of Steve Jobs and his work. For an open source guy, the love I have for Apple is hard to justify (they are the most closed company in the world). I just like their stuff and I have felt Steve Jobs was rarely wrong (in particular, when he said that the cloud was the future of device synchronization ;-)

On the iPad Mini, however, I believe Steve Jobs got it wrong.

Of the smaller tablets, he famously said "This size isn't sufficient to create great tablet apps" and "The seven-inch tablets are tweeners, too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad."

I have used an iPad Mini for 24 hours now.

The apps look exactly the same as they are on my large iPad. There is very minimal tradeoff here. The size of the Mini is perfectly sufficient to create great tablet apps. WRONG #1

I agree it is way too big to compete with my smartphone or camera (people who go around taking pictures with iPads are nuts), but it is definitely a huge competitor to the iPad3. Huge.

Look, the tradeoff is minimal. Mostly, it is the keyboard. However, if you keep it vertical, you can type with your thumbs, BlackBerry-style (formerly Gangnam-style, but now just depressing). I have not found a better way to type than with my thumbs. Even when I use all my fingers on the iPad3, I make mistakes. With my thumbs, I might be slower (might) but I am definitely more accurate. I will always be slower than typing on my laptop, but that is a given. I will never write long emails with a tablet. Period.

If the tradeoff is the keyboard and the Mini makes it even better in vertical, then what else is left?

Size and weight are a huge advantage of the Mini, for people who carry both a laptop and an iPad (again, those who go around with just a tablet are also nuts, the tradeoff between laptop and tablet is still gigantic).

Yeah yeah, I hear you: "it does not have a retina display! My eyes will pop out!!". No, they won't. Sorry, you have spent too much time in Silicon Valley. The retina display is something that only the 0.1% of the population (designers, artists) can really appreciate. The rest of us, we just pretend because it makes us look cool. You can live without a retina display, believe me. And if you wait nine months, you'll have your iPad Mini with the retina display, I guarantee it.

There you have it. I can't find a good reason to say that the Mini can't compete with the iPad3. The Mini is no tweener. It kicks his bigger brother. WRONG #2.

I believe the Mini will quickly outsell the iPad, as the iPod Mini did with the large iPod (remember?).

And where will your Mini live? Let me bet: in your living room, on your couch. The iPad Mini is THE device for Social TV. It is the perfect companion to your TV. It already looks like a big remote control, but 1,000 times smarter. It is the perfect trigger for the amazing growth of second screen apps, an unstoppable wave in 2013.

Now, if only Apple had the guts to price it below $300 ;-) They did not, and I clearly understand why: they know it will cannibalize the iPad3 and they did not want to do the same with the iPod Touch (which is still selling like crazy). Had they gone below $300, who would have bought an iPod Touch for its kids this Christmas? Nobody. However, now you are going to pony up $329 and buy them the Mini instead. Not bad. With time, the price will go down, because the premium Apple can demand will no longer be more than 50% like it is today (the Nexus 7 is $199). There will be a $249 iPad Mini one day, and more than one per household (hey, I wrote it a long time ago... There is a reason why the iPad has never been multi-user: they want one per person, not one per family).

Well, you can't be always right... I remember Steve Jobs saying that he would never open the iPhone to developers, because they would ruin the device. And than say the App Store is the best thing that they ever invented ;-) I am sure today he would say that the iPad Mini is more than 7". It is 7.9".

That 0.9 makes all the difference between a tweener and the best device ever conceived. Right?