OK, even my most devoted fans will be aghast at this one. “How,” I can hear them asking, “is he going to pull this one off? Starting with the late, great American film director Blake Edwards, and winding up with an explanation of why Steve Jobs had no product launch plans for a mini-tablet computer?”
Let’s start with a movie quote:
Dr. Irving Finegarten: Is Batman a transvestite? Who knows?
(From S.O.B., written, produced, and directed by Blake Edwards)
Well, no. If he were, wouldn’t he have a purse as an accessory, instead of a utility belt?
We now come, even more quickly than usual, to the politically incorrect part of the article. I know I’m going to bring Gloria Steinem out of retirement and Thorstein Veblen out of the grave to argue with me, but here goes…
Both men and women occasionally need to carry things that are too big or heavy or numerous to fit into pockets. Query: which gender is more likely to be obliged to open doors, or pull chairs out from tables? Which gender is more likely to have things like that done for them?
From which it follows…which gender needs hands-free carrying accessories, and which can afford to have hand-carried accessories?
Batman and many blue collar workers solve the issue with the utility belt. If a man needs to carry around things that won’t fit on a belt, he almost certainly will choose a hands-free carrier, such as a backpack or shoulder bag.
Some of the larger women’s purses also come with shoulder straps, and some women also use backpacks. However, women, unlike men, have the option of carrying around a dainty purse. Have a look at the illustrative examples from Gucci and Kate Spade.
Now let’s return to the product planning issues. Consider this from Peter Svensson’s article, Rumors swirl of smaller iPad, which Jobs detested: “A 7-inch model would fit in many handbags, unlike the current iPad.”
But let’s consider the implications: the existing Ipads already fit into any male carrying device—there’s probably more than 50% of your market right there—and in the larger women’s handbags. The 7-inch Ipad would fit into smaller purses—but what else goes into them?
Well, among other things—cell phones. So, the 7-inch Ipad is competing for very limited purse space with devices with overlapping capabilities. And since even a 7-inch Ipad is not a convenient device for the first and arguably most important cell phone application, voice communications—the smart phone will be the (one and only) electronic device of choice to be stored in small handbags.
Ergo—the 7-inch Ipad literally doesn’t fit anywhere.
Guy Kawasaki’s observation “The Apple focus group was the right hemisphere of Steve’s brain talking to the left one” seems to apply here. The Svensson article shows Jobs’ intuitively getting to the right conclusion—no 7-inch Ipads—but not even able to come up with a plausible left-brained post facto explanation of his decision.
Fortunately, it does take all types to make a world, so perhaps we can consider this post to be my left-brained tribute to Mr. Jobs and his legacy.