Making a rare appearance on the company’s Q4 2010 earnings conference call, Apple CEO Steve Jobs made several comments regarding tablet competitors to the iPad that have been announced but have yet to ship. Jobs said that there were only a handful of credible entrants out of the many tablets that have been announced, and keyed on the fact that most of them use 7-inch screens. According to Jobs, these screens offer only 45% of the touchable surface area of the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen — he said to hold the iPad in portrait orientation, draw a line across the middle, and the screen of one of the new tablets would be a little smaller than the bottom half of the iPad’s display. Jobs then half-jokingly suggested that competitors could include sandpaper with the tablets so that users could sand their fingers down to 45% of their current size.
Jobs went on to call 7-inch tablets “tweeners,” saying they were too big to compete against smartphones—something Jobs said every tablet user would likely own—but too small to compete against the iPad. Furthermore, he pointed out that while most of the new tablets are based on Android, Google is telling the companies not to use the current version of the Android software, and to instead wait on a new, tablet-friendly version of the OS set to arrive next year. Jobs also said that their competitors were having trouble matching the iPad’s price point despite using smaller screens, and noted that while there are over 30,000 iPad apps available, most of the new tablets would launch with close to zero. Finally, he declared the new entrants “dead on arrival,” adding that competitors will increase their tablets’ screen size next year after they realize the 7-inch screens are too small, and that the process “sounds like lots of fun.”