In the wake of Amazon's 7" Kindle Fire tablet launch, Barnes & Noble has shot back across the Amazon bow with their own vision of a 7" device. Yesterday saw the release of the 7" Nook tablet, which delivers a dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage with an SD card slot, and a 1024 x 600 dpi display. The new Nook delivers a bit more than the Kindle Fire, but it also runs $50 more at $249. But does this have any effect on what is actually a true tablet, the iPad?
Steve jobs ripped the 7" device market, stating they would die out, as they were too small to do real work on them, and that they are "...tweeners; too big to compete against a smartphone, and too small to compete with the iPad". This is akin to no-mans-land in Tennis. No one ever wants to be standing where the ball bounces. Go to the net or stay behind the baseline, it's that simple. But are 7" devices not worthy of the tablet moniker? Is there a market for this space?
Simple put, 7" products positioned as fully functional tablets will fail. The smaller-than-iPad designs carry cheap price points, but for a bit less, an iPod touch can be had that fits into one's pocket, has better battery life and commands more apps than anything in the market place. The 7" market is as of yet unproven, and while old rumors pointing to Apple getting into the race with an iPod touch, the question is, will they?
If the 7" devices find solid ground, there is little doubt Amazon and others won't solidify that space and move north into iPad territory. But Apple can easily pidgeon hole that industry by defaming the 7" product as nothing more than an entertainment device – not a tablet.
The differences between 7" designs and the 9.7" iPad seem little on paper, but anyone who's experienced both can attest they are different classes of devices. It's the reason why iPads have seen enormous success while small, chaper devices have languished. Apple, delivering a 6" iPod touch would flush out this wanna-be-tablet market for what it really is – a large iPod Touch entertainment device.
Positioning the Nook and Fire as large iPod Touch entertainment devices is the right play for Apple. The iPod Touch could move to a 6" retina display, best-in-class cameras (most other 7" products don't have cameras), best vertical solution with what people already own (iTunes content), and best everything with cloud features.
Jobs and Cook have always been keenly aware of not allowing their pricing to leave an umbrella of protection below any given price point of product. A 6" iPod Touch for $299 bridges the price point chasm that currently exists in Apple's lineup, and leaves Nook, Fire and others nowhere to run.