Steve Jobs email reveals Apple was evaluating an 'iPhone nano' in 2010

Posted:
in iPhone edited August 19
An email sent by late Apple cofounder and CEO Steve Jobs in 2010 confirms that the company was working on -- or, at least, thinking about -- a so-called "iPhone nano."

Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider
Credit: Andrew O'Hara, AppleInsider


Back in 2011, Apple was rumored to be developing a smaller and cheaper iPhone that could carry the "nano" moniker used for iPod models at the time. Now, emails collected during the Epic Games v. Apple case and seen by The Verge confirm that those rumors were based on actual Apple plans.

One specific email sent by Jobs -- a meeting agenda -- outlines the company's broad 2011 strategy. One of the bullet points in the email lists the "iPhone nano plan," with two sub-bullets: "cost goal" and "show model (and/or renderings) - Jony." Jony, of course, refers to Apple's then-design chief Jony Ive.

Additionally, an earlier bullet point in the email indicates that Apple was planning on creating a "low cost iPhone model based on iPod touch to replace 3GS." It's not clear if that bullet point refers to the "iPhone nano," or a separate device.

Right around the time that Jobs sent the email agenda, Apple had just launched the sixth-generation iPod nano device. So, at the time, the nano branding was still at the forefront of consumers' minds.

It isn't entirely clear what the "iPhone nano" may have looked like, however -- the email is short on details. The current iPhone at the time, the iPhone 4, was already a fairly small device by today's standards with a tiny 3.5-inch display.

Apple, of course, eventually phased out the "nano" moniker with the iPod. These days, the company refers to its smaller form factor devices as "mini" models -- like the iPhone 12 mini and the HomePod mini.

Consumer tastes have seemingly changed since 2010, too. Reports suggest that the iPhone 12 mini isn't doing as well as Apple's larger devices, and the company may have plans to phase out the model in the coming years.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,860member

    the company may have plans to phase out the model in the coming years.


    Please don’t.
    baconstangpatchythepiratemobirdfred1opinionwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 20
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,820member
    Reports suggest that the iPhone 12 mini isn't doing as well as Apple's larger devices, and the company may have plans to phase out the model in the coming years.
    I think Apple made a mistake with the iPhone 12 mini - it's not small enough! You say the iPhone 4 is "fairly small by today's standards" - no, it's very small by today's standards; considerably smaller than the iPhone 12 mini. I have a 12 mini and I still can't fully use it one-handed without reachability turned on. If it was the size of an iPhone 4 (but screen was full-face, so a larger screen than the iPhone 4) that would be perfect.
    patchythepirateGeeAyegilesopinionwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 20
    tedz98tedz98 Posts: 72member
    This information shows that Steve Jobs was looking at product differentiation based on lower cost and smaller size. Apple would do well to continue with that strategy. I would not recommend discontinuing the iPhone 12 mini for those reasons. Having older models at a lower price is one approach. But I’d prefer the latest tech in a smaller package at a lower price.
    baconstangpatchythepiratemobirdtommikelewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 20
    I believe the 12 mini was with an eye towards India as a means of providing current tech in a more affordable package. Over a billion people in that country but limited financial resources for most, this is a market Apple is entering now that China growth has stabilized into a more mature market. 
    patchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 20
    In 2020 Tim Cook was not evaluating a Mac Nano even though Apple had the technical ability to produce one easily. That's the difference between a CEO with vision and one with ability. Jobs imagined products that could not be produced. Cook can't imagine products which can be produced.
  • Reply 6 of 20
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,496member
    In 2020 Tim Cook was not evaluating a Mac Nano even though Apple had the technical ability to produce one easily. That's the difference between a CEO with vision and one with ability. Jobs imagined products that could not be produced. Cook can't imagine products which can be produced.
    You don’t have a frickin’ clue what Tim and company have or have not imagined and entertained.   This info on the supposed iPhone nano, which never came out, took about a decade to be made public.  
    chiaradarthekatroundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 20
    chiachia Posts: 711member
    In 2020 Tim Cook was not evaluating a Mac Nano even though Apple had the technical ability to produce one easily. That's the difference between a CEO with vision and one with ability. Jobs imagined products that could not be produced. Cook can't imagine products which can be produced.
    All this uninformed Tim Cook bashing is getting tiresome: Tim Cook was one of Steve Jobs’s very first, if not first hires when he resumed as CEO. Jony Ive was one of the few senior people Steve Jobs retained from the previous Apple administration.

    Thus the 21st century success of Apple is as much the fruit of Tim Cook’s and Jonathan Ive’s labours as it is Steve Jobs’s.
    tommikeleroundaboutnowwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 20
    Getting rid of a small ( dimensionally) model would be a mistake. 


    fred1opiniongileswatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 20
    chia said:
    In 2020 Tim Cook was not evaluating a Mac Nano even though Apple had the technical ability to produce one easily. That's the difference between a CEO with vision and one with ability. Jobs imagined products that could not be produced. Cook can't imagine products which can be produced.
    All this uninformed Tim Cook bashing is getting tiresome: Tim Cook was one of Steve Jobs’s very first, if not first hires when he resumed as CEO. Jony Ive was one of the few senior people Steve Jobs retained from the previous Apple administration.

    Thus the 21st century success of Apple is as much the fruit of Tim Cook’s and Jonathan Ive’s labours as it is Steve Jobs’s.
    Absolutely agree. OutdoorAppDeveloper has a dreamy vision that reads more like a professor's speech on the first day of a biography class about Jobs or the marketing copy for a documentary about him. 

    Cook, Ive and the team have performed brilliantly. They're not Jobs and they smartly never tried to be.

    Gates knew when to go. I wonder if Jobs would have known when it was time. If the hero worshippers are right about who he was, it doesn't seem so.

    We and OutdoorAppDeveloper really don't have any idea what they are working on behind those walls. 
    chiaradarthekatroundaboutnow
  • Reply 10 of 20
    mobirdmobird Posts: 639member
    Give the mini some love, stainless steel would be welcomed. Maybe provide all features that are physically possible (limitations due to size constraints) that are found on it's bigger siblings. Let the SE cater to the price conscious consumer. Maybe a iPhone mini PRO...

    Or maybe go at the mini a different way, gut all of the trinkets and trash components taking up space inside, scale down some features due to removal of T&T and stick a big ass battery in the thing and give it a lonnng battery life. iPhone mini XTXD.

    I finally upgraded to the iPhone 12 mini from my iPhone X because of rumors of the mini's future. Nothing was wrong with my iPhone X, I just wanted to continue to have a smaller form factor for my phone and the accumulated features that have accrued since the release of the iPhone X finally made sense.

    If Apple just releases a iPhone 13 mini with no additional features, they will unfortunately not obtain any improved sales numbers and another disappointment. Something about the definition of insanity comes to mind...

    Hopefully Apple surprises with a iPhone 13 mini with some TLC...
    edited August 19
  • Reply 11 of 20
    ...I miss the 2011 Apple...
  • Reply 12 of 20
    ...I miss the 2011 Apple...
    I found an old shriveling Apple in my truck today my kids left for me.  It could be from 2011…happy to send it your way🤣
    roundaboutnow
  • Reply 13 of 20
    Keep making the mini, me and surely a lot of others don’t want to carry a brick around just a small but powerful iPhone. Also communicate clearly that the difference between the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 is just size, weight and battery. 
    fred1
  • Reply 14 of 20
    Wishlist for iPhone 13 mini:
    -No notch
    -Touch ID
  • Reply 15 of 20
    gilesgiles Posts: 13member
    mr. h said:
    Reports suggest that the iPhone 12 mini isn't doing as well as Apple's larger devices, and the company may have plans to phase out the model in the coming years.
    I think Apple made a mistake with the iPhone 12 mini - it's not small enough! You say the iPhone 4 is "fairly small by today's standards" - no, it's very small by today's standards; considerably smaller than the iPhone 12 mini. I have a 12 mini and I still can't fully use it one-handed without reachability turned on. If it was the size of an iPhone 4 (but screen was full-face, so a larger screen than the iPhone 4) that would be perfect.
    100% agreed. The only reason I won't replace my SE (first edition) is that all current models are too large for me. I need a 5G iPhone that fits in my pockets.
    opinion
  • Reply 16 of 20
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,820member
    In those early iPhone days I wanted a smaller form factor, more like 3*4 app icons, possibly without an App Store, but able to tether a data connection.  I still want that.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,306member
    I think this is a case of Steve Jobs not being correct. The 4 and 4s that were the current models in 2011 were already small with a 3.5" screen. The Galaxy Note was introduced around this time with a 5.3" screen. Many Apple fans derided the size but after they were introduced, the larger iphones have been quite popular. I doubt a smaller iPhone would have sold well.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 20
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,560moderator
    giles said:
    mr. h said:
    Reports suggest that the iPhone 12 mini isn't doing as well as Apple's larger devices, and the company may have plans to phase out the model in the coming years.
    I think Apple made a mistake with the iPhone 12 mini - it's not small enough! You say the iPhone 4 is "fairly small by today's standards" - no, it's very small by today's standards; considerably smaller than the iPhone 12 mini. I have a 12 mini and I still can't fully use it one-handed without reachability turned on. If it was the size of an iPhone 4 (but screen was full-face, so a larger screen than the iPhone 4) that would be perfect.
    100% agreed. The only reason I won't replace my SE (first edition) is that all current models are too large for me. I need a 5G iPhone that fits in my pockets.
    I use an original SE too but would have no problem with an iPhone 12 mini size phone at 10% wider, 6% taller:



    I also have an iPhone X and it's nicer to type on the keyboard but too bulky overall. After using it a while, you get more accustomed to a larger size.

    There's not much they can do to make the 12 mini smaller without reducing battery life. The components are packed tight and it also shows why they'd struggle with a better camera module in the mini:



    The original SE has a 1624mAh battery, the 12 mini has 2227mAh. People already complain about the mini's battery life. 10 hours of web browsing would be 7 hours with an SE sized battery.

    Maybe if there's an improvement in battery density they can get the same capacity from a smaller size but until that happens, the 12 mini is about the best compromise they can make without making it thicker.

    Removing the sim module would help, if carriers would all switch to eSIMs, that metal tray can go.
    MplsP said:
    I think this is a case of Steve Jobs not being correct. The 4 and 4s that were the current models in 2011 were already small with a 3.5" screen. The Galaxy Note was introduced around this time with a 5.3" screen. Many Apple fans derided the size but after they were introduced, the larger iphones have been quite popular. I doubt a smaller iPhone would have sold well.
    Things were a lot different in 2010. It sounds like it was planned to be closer to an iPod style device. It would have been very hard to use the keyboard in portrait on a less than 3.5" display but the 2.5" iPod Nano was usable as a music player and for basic apps:


    An iPhone Nano would have been an iPod with cellular network capability for music streaming, maps, synced app data, an App Store. It would have had some appeal at a lower price point, especially among kids if they got them as gifts. I think more than size, Apple saw that people didn't mind paying more for a good smartphone so there was little need to make a cheaper model like this. Kids get their parent's old phones so it's not so important for them either.
  • Reply 19 of 20
    mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,820member
    Marvin said:
    giles said:
    mr. h said:
    Reports suggest that the iPhone 12 mini isn't doing as well as Apple's larger devices, and the company may have plans to phase out the model in the coming years.
    I think Apple made a mistake with the iPhone 12 mini - it's not small enough! You say the iPhone 4 is "fairly small by today's standards" - no, it's very small by today's standards; considerably smaller than the iPhone 12 mini. I have a 12 mini and I still can't fully use it one-handed without reachability turned on. If it was the size of an iPhone 4 (but screen was full-face, so a larger screen than the iPhone 4) that would be perfect.
    100% agreed. The only reason I won't replace my SE (first edition) is that all current models are too large for me. I need a 5G iPhone that fits in my pockets.
    I use an original SE too but would have no problem with an iPhone 12 mini size phone at 10% wider, 6% taller:



    I also have an iPhone X and it's nicer to type on the keyboard but too bulky overall. After using it a while, you get more accustomed to a larger size.

    There's not much they can do to make the 12 mini smaller without reducing battery life. The components are packed tight and it also shows why they'd struggle with a better camera module in the mini:



    The original SE has a 1624mAh battery, the 12 mini has 2227mAh. People already complain about the mini's battery life. 10 hours of web browsing would be 7 hours with an SE sized battery.

    Maybe if there's an improvement in battery density they can get the same capacity from a smaller size but until that happens, the 12 mini is about the best compromise they can make without making it thicker.

    Removing the sim module would help, if carriers would all switch to eSIMs, that metal tray can go.
    MplsP said:
    I think this is a case of Steve Jobs not being correct. The 4 and 4s that were the current models in 2011 were already small with a 3.5" screen. The Galaxy Note was introduced around this time with a 5.3" screen. Many Apple fans derided the size but after they were introduced, the larger iphones have been quite popular. I doubt a smaller iPhone would have sold well.
    Things were a lot different in 2010. It sounds like it was planned to be closer to an iPod style device. It would have been very hard to use the keyboard in portrait on a less than 3.5" display but the 2.5" iPod Nano was usable as a music player and for basic apps:


    An iPhone Nano would have been an iPod with cellular network capability for music streaming, maps, synced app data, an App Store. It would have had some appeal at a lower price point, especially among kids if they got them as gifts. I think more than size, Apple saw that people didn't mind paying more for a good smartphone so there was little need to make a cheaper model like this. Kids get their parent's old phones so it's not so important for them either.
    Surely the cellular Apple Watch is today's iPhone Nano?

    Totally agreed regarding the sim tray - it's ridiculous how much space it takes up, especially considering it's technically unnecessary. I'd love for Apple to call all carriers' bluffs and just release iPhones without sim trays. Second best option is to lobby hard for governments to mandate carrier support for eSims.

    Personally for the iPhone mini, I would go with a single-lens camera, ditch the taptic engine and wireless charging (I really hate wireless charging and think it should be outlawed for devices that don't 100% require it, like electric toothbrushes. On phones and the like it's just a disgusting waste of energy and resources for extremely minimal benefit), and make the footprint exactly the same as the iPhone 4. Don't forget that a significant proportion of the battery energy goes on powering the screen, so a smaller screen will offset battery capacity issues, and in any case making the other changes I suggest would give more room for the battery.
  • Reply 20 of 20
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,560moderator
    mr. h said:
    Surely the cellular Apple Watch is today's iPhone Nano?
    It's pretty close to what an iPod phone would be. An iPod phone might have added a camera to allow photo/video/Facetime etc and it would be able to browse the web but most of the other uses would be covered. It would be hard to replace an iPhone with a watch on its own though, an iPod phone could easily replace an iPhone. I remember years ago hoping things like the Apple Peel would take off. These converted the iPod Touch into a phone so you could get an iPhone type device for $199 iPod plus $60 case:



    But because people paid for smartphones along with the network bill, the price difference of these was never visible enough.
    mr. h said:
    Totally agreed regarding the sim tray - it's ridiculous how much space it takes up, especially considering it's technically unnecessary. I'd love for Apple to call all carriers' bluffs and just release iPhones without sim trays. Second best option is to lobby hard for governments to mandate carrier support for eSims.
    They can require physical sim cards go in an external case:



    If Samsung did this too, carriers wouldn't have much option but to broaden support of eSims. I think the networks still have too much leverage over this though as they control the phone numbers. If it was just about data it would be easier. There would need to be a broader transition away from standard phone calls and numbering and it seems like a lot of companies, banks and governments want it to be harder for people to switch their unique communication identity.
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