The end of PC dominance. What it means for iOS.
A 9.7" iPad is here to stay. A larger display iPhone is coming.
Why? The PC era is ending. To paraphrase SJ, we'll always need trucks, but most of us will be better off with cars. In a couple of months MS will release Office for the iPad, removing a major legacy sticking point for consumers and businesses to go to tablets. An old (last March) graph, but you can get the general trend:
So, a lot more of us will be doing trad PC tasks on a tablet. For many of these tasks (eg spreadsheets, long form text entry, photo manip), display size will matter. The iPad mini will definitely be retina by the fall, but I still think the extra raw size of the 9.7" iPad will be better for tasks like this.
There is also the oft mentioned fact that devices are either pocketable or not. Once you are at 7.9", you need some sort of external carry solution for most situations. Yes, I know the mini fits in some coat pockets etc, but generally the mini won't do for having on hand at all times. I just got rid of a nasty little 7" tablet (Playbook). Even leaving aside its *many* deficiencies, I did try to move around with it quite a bit at first. It fit into an internal pocket of a coat I wear a lot. Still was awkward to carry and use on the go. The mini is a similar size, perhaps a bit wider.
At present I use an iPad 3 and an iPhone 4S for all my computing. It would be nice to have a lighter 9.7" iPad, and that is certainly coming, but the real irritant is the phone screen size. Yes, I have spent a weekend with an iPhone 5, but that simply doesn't cut it. Phones are mobile Internet connected computers more than phones now. I remember years ago when unlimited phone minutes were first offered. There was a TV news story (that shows how long ago it was. I haven't endured network news for a *long* time) that showed a teen who was 'abusing' these unlimited minutes. Something like 5000 minutes a month. He said, "I just call my girl at home. She puts me on speaker and we just, hang out". Screen size didn't matter to him.
Even though unlimited minutes are now fairly common now, the average minutes of voice calling is dropping. Communication now is primarily by email, text, facebook, twitter etc. A teen who visited over the holidays had her head buried in her phone almost constantly. She was carrying on text conversations with an average of 6 of her friends at any one time. 10k txt messages a month are nothing for her. I never saw her make a single voice call. Screen size matters to her.
My point? Phone interactions are primarily visual now (Siri etc notwithstanding). Phone screen size matters now. Bigger is better, keeping in mind portability of course. We need a device small enough to always be there, but big enough to work well for the visual nature of these mobile computer interactions (web access, map use, photo and video access, email, text, etc).
My computing now: iPhone 4S and iPad 3
Hopefully next fall: 4.75" (+- 0.25") 1080p or so iPhone (think a larger itouch 5 with top and bottom bezels reduced by 50% for the form factor) and a skeletised 9.7" iPad (think a scaled up iPad mini).
This would allow efficient use when mobile (large display iPhone) and efficient trad computing at home / at work (skeletised iPad). The iPad could still be taken along for specific purposes, but the large display phone would handle most mobile needs.
I think both devices will be available by fall of this year.
I can also see a future where a 6" display or so is the *only* computer for some people, but that is simply not portable enough / not large enough for me with present or near future tech. Who knows though. Ultra high resolution with nothing but a 5mm thick, absolute edge to edge display with buttons being virtual or hidden on the back and microphones / speakers embedded on the edge may work some day.