Will 7-inch tablets fill the 'functional wasteland' void?

Here's the problem with the onslaught of smartphones, tablets, notebooks and other computing gadgets hitting the market: Unless you can somehow break the rules of physics one size never fits all.

Here's the problem with the onslaught of smartphones, tablets, notebooks and other computing gadgets hitting the market: Unless you can somehow break the rules of physics one size never fits all.

That's why the 7-inch tablet is going to be so interesting to watch. Perhaps Samsung's Galaxy Tab turns out to be the perfect form factor. Or the 7-inch tablet will be toast. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said that 7-inch screens are a non-starter. They're too small to compete with the iPad and too big to compete with a smartphone. RIM CEO Jim Balsillie disagrees.

Gartner's Leslie Fiering summed up the tablet conundrum Wednesday in a presentation on how tablets were flooding into the enterprise. She said:

There is still an open question as to whether 7" media tablets will fill the "functional wasteland" or whether these will tend toward the larger 10" and smaller 5" form factors.

In my talks with people at Gartner Symposium in Orlando---including a few partners of companies making 7-inch tablets---there seems to be no middle ground on 7-inch tablets. People think they are DOA or that they'll be dominant. Of course, those votes don't matter much since consumers and businesses will decide.

Here's this wasteland that a 7-inch tablet could fill.

It has been widely assumed that 7-inches would be a nice size for media consumption. On the business front, tablets will be good for sales, marketing, education, reference documents, collaboration and other uses. But is a 7-inch screen the magic size? Or is it DOA as Jobs says?

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