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Here's Apple's e-mail thread about a 7-inch iPad

Apple may not have a 7-inch version of the iPad available, but a newly unearthed piece of evidence shows the company's top brass was into the idea.

Apple's current-size iPad.
Apple's current-size iPad.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- One of the highlights of Apple and Samsung's day in court today was therelease of an internal e-mail in which top Apple executives discussed interest in a smaller version of the iPad.

This made up just a very small part of a cross-examination of Scott Forstall, Apple's head of iOS software at Apple, but it was enough to get the attention of just about everyone here.

At the heart of it is proof that some of the top executives at Apple were pursuing an alternate, smaller tablet -- something controversial given late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' acerbic, on-the-record comments about smaller tablets following the release of the company's first iPad. Jobs was known to flip-flop on major ideas, and misdirect about potential business avenues, though his comments about smaller tablets suggested the company would never go that direction.

That's not the impression one gets from the e-mail exchange below, between Eddy Cue, head of Apple's Internet software and services, and top executives regarding a story in GigaOm entitled "Why I just dumped the iPad (Hint: Size Matters)":


In it, Cue writes to current Apple CEO Tim Cook, iOS software chief Scott Forstall, and marketing chief Phil Schiller, while mentioning a conversation with then CEO Steve Jobs (emphasis mine):

Having used a Samsung Galaxy, I tend to agree with many of the comments below (except moving off the iPad). I believe there will be a 7" market and we should do one. I expressed this to Steve several times since Thanksgiving and he seemed very receptive the last time. I found email, books, facebook and video very compelling on a 7". Web browsing is definitely the weakest point, but still usable.

Not to be ignored is the point Samsung was trying to make with the e-mail, which is that Apple keeps tabs on the products of other companies. In this case, it's that the smaller tablets of others might not be as bad a thing as Jobs once suggested. With Apple accusing Samsung of "slavishly" copying the iPhone and iPad, Samsung is using this exhibit as proof Apple takes a cue from competitors as well.

The two companies are back in court Monday morning with more testimony from Apple's side on the schedule.