Apple announced stellar earning numbers for their Q4 2010. Steve Jobs was on the call, which was a surprise. He said that he wanted to be there, because it was Apple's first $20 billion quarter. Steve Jobs made several interesting statements during the call. One of them put a lid on the rumors about a smaller 7-inch iPad. According to AppleInsider, Steve Jobs said that "The reason we are not making a 7-inch tablet isn't because we don't want to hit that price point, it's because we think the screen is too small to express the software."
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Steve Jobs said that the software is the important aspect that creates the value of the product. Additionally developers would not adapt their apps for a smaller screen. He also said that the strategy manufacturers offering lower priced tablets that make compromises on screen size and performance would fail.
Given the 4.2 million iPads sold last quarter, Apple's strategy is correct for now. Steve Jobs has said no to things in the past and they still happened eventually. I would not count out a 7-inch iPad, but I do not think that it would come soon.
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The Apple Q4 2010 earnings call is available as audio cast on the Apple site.