How iPad Screen Sizes will Change

Posted on March 15, 2012

Different Tablet Form FactorsA reader has recently asked for my take on whether Apple will release other iPads with screen sizes that are different from the current 9.7 inches; especially given the variations available on Android and soon to arrive Windows 8 tablets.

Different people have different use cases for their tablets, especially enterprise users. There are certainly different niches out that that would prefer different form factors, for example delivery services may prefer to have smaller format devices that are more portable. The PlayBook’s 7 inch may be better adapted to their needs than the iPad’s 9.7 inches.

So given this, is it likely that Apple will want to address these niches? I think it’s worthwhile first thinking about how Apple develops products. According to Jony Ive’s recent interview in the London Standard and other sources, Apple makes a lot of different prototypes and sees how optimum they are. So you can bet that Apple has already tried 7″ and letter size tablets, and they settled on 9.7″. I’m sure that this is the form factor that gives the best screen size, at the lightest weight for what Apple consider to be 80% of use cases.

Hence even if Apple were to introduce other screen sizes, you can bet they would expect to continue selling the 9.7″ form factor to the majority of their customers.

Another key aspect to answering this question is to consider Apple’s attitude towards developers. Apple wants developers to be successful and making money. They want development on their platform to be cheap and of a high quality. As soon as you introduce a new form factor, you are raising costs on developers, and developing for a new form factor is rather expensive. Hence Apple has previously increased resolution but kept screen size the same.

With this is mind, I doubt Apple will want to inconvenience developers to service niches. There is not a huge financial benefit neither for Apple nor the developer ecosystem. Hence, dear reader, don’t expect different tablet form factors anytime soon.