Yesterday, in an unexpected rant against Google's Android, Steve Jobs decried the uselessness of a 7-inch touch tablet. As Gizmodo reported, the big guy went so far as to say:
This size isn't sufficient to create great tablet apps, in our opinion. While one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference, it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size.
But there apparently was a 7-inch iPad in the works. Sure, it's conceivable that it was only a prototype, but it was reported several times in Taiwan tech-industry rags, including the rumor-heavy (but not always trustworthy) Digitimes. Apple was allegedly going to have this second, smaller iPad in stores come Christmas.
In a research note that went out today, Rodman & Renshaw senior tech analyst Ashok Kumar accused Apple of aborting the plan:
This is in direct conflict with our supply chain checks that indicated that Apple had committed to a 7-inch iPad. It is very likely that Apple decided to kill that SKU in light of slew of 7-inch offerings from the Android ecosystem and Apple’s inability to sufficiently differentiate the iPad 2.
Kumar is also the analyst whose "supply chain checks" told him, inaccurately, that the iPhone 4 antenna problem would be a hardware fix like "a rubber bumper on the inside," so he isn't exactly batting 1000 either. Still, it seems plausible that Apple had a junior iPad in the works at some point, but after what Jobs said yesterday, it won't be coming out. At least until Jobs changes his mind in 18 to 24 months.