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iPad Competition Is 'DOA, Dead on Arrival,' Steve Jobs Says

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 (Reuters)

Apple CEO Steve Jobs put in an unusual appearance Monday evening on an Apple sales call -- using the opportunity to trash the iPad's main rivals. 

Jobs, who has not addressed investors on an earnings call for two years, lashed out at competitors Google and Blackberry-maker Research in Motion, and dismissed the smaller tablets made by rivals including Samsung and Dell.

"The current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA, dead on arrival," Jobs told analysts on the conference call. "Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small."

Jobs noted that Apple's iPhone outsold RIM's BlackBerry in its most recent quarter. "I don't see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future," he said. And he criticized Google's Android as a "fragmented" operating system. 

RIM and Google did not respond to requests for comment, but Google's head of Android development Andy Rubin responded in true geek fashion -- on Twitter. The developer used his 140 characters to refute Jobs' contention that Android is not an open platform, showing how easy it is to download and modify it.

In the still-emerging tablet market, Jobs said there appears to be just a "handful of credible entrants," and he said price points on rival tablets won't be able to compete with the iPad, which starts at just $499.

Some analysts agreed with Jobs, and foresaw sales of the iPad, which came on the market only in April, jumpstarting next year as the gadget gets rolled out to more countries and to more mass-market retail outlets like Wal-Mart.

As an indication of industry bullishness, research group iSuppli said it expects Apple to sell a whopping 43.7 million iPads next year.

Sales of "iPads were low, but I also think they had a lot of production problems getting that off the ground. So I don't think that really is a good demand indicator for iPad," said analyst Jane Snorek of First American Funds.

Listen to a complete audio account of Jobs' rant at Engadget. 

Apple on Monday reported a net profit of $4.31 billion, or $4.64 a share, in the fiscal fourth quarter ended September 25, up from $2.53 billion, or $2.77 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Shares of Apple -- the second-largest corporation on the Standard & Poor's 500 index, after Exxon Mobil -- slid 6 percent in after-hours trading, which would be their biggest single-day loss since 2008. Supply and production bottlenecks kept iPads, which have a 9.7-inch touch screen, from store shelves and buyers waiting weeks sometimes for their gadget. The company sold 4.19 million iPads in the fiscal fourth quarter.

"A little bit disappointing there. Street was expecting closer to 5 million units. The problem is supply, they can't make enough of them," said Gleacher & Co analyst Brian Marshall. Analysts said sales should ramp up in the holiday quarter as Apple resolves supply hitches.

There was no disappointment in the iPhone, however, whose surging sales showed little impact from a PR debacle last summer over the device's antenna. Apple sold 14.1 million of the smartphones, a gain of 91 percent and better than Wall Street had expected. The company said demand is still outstripping supply, with the iPhone now available in 89 countries.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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