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Was Steve Jobs Wrong About Big Screen Phones?

Steve jobs

The first iPhone introduced by Steve Jobs back in 2007 had a 3.5-inch screen. Jobs stuck to that size for years, even when a new crop of Android phone makers such as Samsung and HTC, were coming out with much bigger phones, which met with great success. In fact, Jobs dismissed the big Android phones as “Hummers,” when asked if making iPhones bigger could solve the problem of dropped calls because users held their iPhones the wrong way.

Job was vehemently opposed to the idea of a bigger phone. He felt that a width of 3.5 inch was the perfect size for a phone, as a bigger screen would make it hard for an average person to hold the phone and type one-handed as well. Jobs insisted until his last day at the helm at Apple that a 3.5-inch screen was as big as the iPhone would get. Jobs died in 2011.

A new generation of executives within Apple felt differently. In fact, the internal documents circulated in Apple in 2013 indicate how scared Apple’s top executives were with the fact that iPhone sales were slowing while those of bigger Android phones with 4-inch screens (or more) were increasing. The writing was on the wall – “Consumers want what we don’t have,” one of the documents said.

It was also noted that the biggest complaints Apple’s customers had about the iPhone 5, 5S and 5C were related to their small screen size. Many were ditching the iPhone for the much bigger Samsung Galaxy S2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 2 for this reason. The iPhone’s small screen size, declared by Steve Jobs to be “perfect”, was now a liability.

It was to compete with Samsung and to recover lost ground that Apple released the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus in 2014. Samsung did its best to put a negative spin over the launch of these phones, misquoting Jobs as saying “No one is going to buy a big phone.” Jobs never said that, but who cares about the details!

True, there is no question that Apple erred by not releasing an iPhone with a bigger screen sooner. But it’s wrong to say that the original iPhone had a small screen-size. In fact, if anyone remembers how the mobile phones of those days (2007) looked like – most of them had tiny displays and one of the reasons for the iPhone’s popularity was its comparatively large display.

The screens on Nokia phones had little room for anything other than a number or a name. BlackBerry phones were huge, but even they didn’t have a particularly large display, as much of the space was taken up by the keypad. With the old iPhone, the display was much bigger, which allowed the user to write e-mails, play games, use the apps, watch videos and more.

But since then, smartphones became a lot smarter and had even replaced the computer for most people. Anything the computer could do, smartphones could do as well (except that you could not do any programming, designing or any such work on the smartphone).

Sure, Jobs may have been wrong about the iPhone screen-size – which is strange because it was rare for Jobs to be wrong about anything. But he was clear about one thing – Jobs knew that the iPhone would become the most important computer to most people. And that’s what the iPhone 6 is – the only computer that most people will ever need.




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