Originally Posted by hmurchison
You could make the same defense about the Air in an argument about whether the 11" model should exist or not.
The questions is one of need. Does every company need the extra screen real estate of a 9.7" tablet or would many be fine with a 7.85 tablet.
Now you're talking about making a product for a niche market but the question that bears asking is, does the extra screen real estate cause any significant problems. I suspect the answer is no for the vast majority of iPad users. It's similar to how most cars have a back seat even though many times it goes unused. Even so, the market has gravitated towards having that back seat with a rather small percentage of cars available lacking one.
The main reason is that the back seat is useful at times and when you are not using it, really, what harm is it doing. There is a penalty in terms of fuel consumption but also a measure of extra safety because it results in a larger vehicle with a buffer zone back there, as well as additional cargo space. So we don't give that back seat a second thought. We buy our cars in many forms, yet seating for more than two people is pretty much a constant, except of course for pick-up trucks and sports roadsters.
I don't think the tablet market is mature enough for Apple to be worrying about a rather small fringe group of customers who are not badly served simply by opting for the one form factor that Apple already offers. It is also highly unlikely that if from time to time even those customers gain from a little extra screen real estate, they would care to own multiple models, making use of whatever happens to be best for a particular activity. It's like that car with the back seat you often don't need which is more versatile because it is there for when you do need it. Even if a smaller screen would be enough, a larger screen causes no hardship.
Basically, if you have a tablet that is too big to fit in your pocket, might as well make it large enough to have a screen that allows for most of the activities it will be used for to be more enjoyable.
You're reference to the Air doesn't hold because there is substantial difference between the 11-inch and 13-inch versions both in terms of price and ease of use due to substantial weight reductions. If you don't need the power of the 13-incher then the smaller model makes sense on a lot of levels. The same would not apply to the smaller iPad when stacked up against the current form factor.