Apple CEO Steve Jobs was apparently more receptive to the idea of a 7-inch tablet than his public comments led many to believe, according to new evidence presented in the Samsung-Apple patent trial.
“I believe there will be a 7” [tablet] market and we should do one,” Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue wrote in a January 2011 email to other company executives. “I expressed this to Steve several times since Thanksgiving and he seemed very receptive the last time.”
That email was entered into evidence on August 3 by Samsung’s legal team, which is trying to demonstrate that Apple’s executive team maintains a steady watch on its competitors; in his email, Cue mentioned using the Samsung Galaxy tablet. “I found email, books, facebook and video very compelling on a 7”,” he wrote. “Web browsing is definitely the weakest point, but still usable.”
The actual image of the email can be found on multiple Websites, including AllThingsD.
Jobs’ reported receptiveness to the idea of a 7-inch tablet is somewhat surprising, considering how the mercurial CEO famously (or infamously, depending on your point of view) appeared on Apple’s October 2010 earnings call and proceeded to shred 7-inch tablets as inherently inferior to 10-inch ones such as the iPad.
For starters, he thought a 7-inch screen was “too small,” and that multiple screen sizes would interfere with developers’ ability to construct apps. “As a software-driven company,” he told the audience of media and analysts, “we think about software strategies first, and we know that software developers aren’t going to deal real well with all these different-sized products.”
But Jobs could have changed his mind about tablets in the months between that earnings call and his death in October 2011. Like most effective leaders, he was also capable of staging colorful feints to confuse the competition; it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that, even as he railed against 7-inch tablets, he was already discussing their potential benefits with his people.
Rumors have swirled for months that Apple is developing a 7-inch tablet to compete with Google’s Nexus 7, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, and other touch-screens in that size range. Two of the publications feeding those rumors, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, both cited unnamed sources for their information.