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Don't hold your breath for 7-inch iPad

Steve Jobs unexpectedly dials in to Apple's earnings call, discrediting the size and usability of 7-inch tablets set to arrive from iPad competitors.

Jobs threw cold water on the usability of 7-inch tablets like Samsung's Galaxy Tab--and the rumors of a 7-inch iPad.
Jobs threw cold water on the usability of 7-inch tablets like Samsung's Galaxy Tab--and the rumors of a 7-inch iPad. Kent German/CNET

Steve Jobs thinks you're fat. Or at least your fingers are.

Jobs dialed in to Apple's earnings call this afternoon and took on, among other topics, the usability of a 7-inch touch-screen tablet. Though many of Apple's competitors are introducing or plan to introduce tablets in that size, it's not ideal for a touch-screen device, he told investors.

"It's meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size," he said.

Normal-size human fingers are too big to be able to accurately hit icons on a screen that size, he claimed.

"Apple has done extensive user testing and we really understand this stuff," he said. "There are clear limits on how close you can place things on a touchscreen, which is why we think 10 inch is the minimum screen size to create great tablet apps."

But it's not just our pesky fingers that are the problem. He also trashed the screen size and resolution of 7-inchers.

"One naturally thinks that a 7-inch screen would offer 70 percent of the benefits of a 10-inch screen...this is far from the truth. Seven-inch screens are 45 percent as large as an iPad," Jobs said. "This size isn't sufficient for making great tablet apps."

"No tablet can compete with a smartphone. And given that all tablet users will already have a smartphone in their pocket, giving up screen area to fit in a pocket is a bad trade-off," he said.

Jobs is obviously doing some marketing countermeasures ahead of the holidays when several new tablet models may become available that compete with the iPad.

But he was also sending this message to those reporting rumors thata 7-inch iPad is on its way: it's not happening.