Why Apple Brought Up the Nexus 7 During the iPad mini Keynote 

During yesterday’s keynote, Apple’s Phil Schiller burned the Nexus 7 several times. Here is a bit of copy from Apple’s site:

iPad mini is small enough to hold in one hand, yet it has a 35 percent larger screen area than a 7-inch tablet.

Apple also continues to make a big point out of the fact that there are 275,000 iPad apps out there, and that they are far more than blown-up phone apps. This of course is also a jab at the Nexus 7, which runs phone apps in the absence of a tablet interface.

There’s no getting around this is a problem in the Android ecosystem. Coupled with the fact the iPad mini is bigger and made of better materials, the Nexus 7 and its cousins look like toys compared to Apple’s new mini-tablet.

I’ve read a ton of things over the last 24 hours written by people upset that Apple spent so much time calling out the Nexus 7 and similar products. I’ve seen people call it unfair and even un-Apple-like.

Both accusations are wrong.

Apple’s done this before. When introducing the original iPhone, Steve Jobs showed this slide:

Jobs called out these phones as being inflexible, due to having keyboards sunk in plastic. He praised the iPhone, with its ability to show a keyboard and other buttons in software, as-needed.

(Jobs also preached the virtues of Multi-Touch and iPhone’s software.)

During the original iPad event, however, Jobs didn’t call out any products like this.

Now, Apple’s doing it again. What gives?

Well, it’s all about the market.

In 2007 with the original iPhone, Apple was entering a preexisting market. Smartphones were around before the iPhone, and Apple needed to build a case explaining why its product was different — and better.

With the iPad, Apple basically invented the tablet market. They were creating a new class of devices, defining the very market it is now commanding. Apple needed to build a case for the “third device,” but it didn’t need to compare it to other products already for sale.

(Apple did destroy netbooks in its presentation, but I don’t think it’s the same thing.)

Yesterday, Apple entered a market that was already up and running — the market for smaller tablets. Like with the iPhone, Apple built its case for a better product by comparing it to the competition.

I understand that people were uncomfortable watching Apple go after the Nexus 7 so viciously. Apple didn’t say anything that was untrue. That said, this isn’t not anything new, and nothing that Steve Jobs wouldn’t have done on stage.