5. Steve Jobs Makes a Lousy Call
So Steve Jobs was compelled to hop on his company's conference call on Tuesday. And why not? Apple (AAPL - Get Report) had more than one great story to tell. In fact, it was poised to dominate the headlines for all the right reasons all week long.
We imagine any chief executive would have killed to have had the set up Jobs had coming into the week. There was the company's mindboggling $20 billion in quarterly revenue to report on Tuesday, followed by the unveiling of the ultra-thin MacBook Air on Wednesday. The ball was teed up. The fences had been moved in. All Jobs had to do was swing, make contact and he was guaranteed a homerun.
So what does Jobs do instead? Jumps on the conference call and proceeds to -- pardon the mixed metaphor -- fumble the ball.
"I'd like to comment on the avalanche of tablets poised to enter the market in the coming months," said Jobs. (Uh, why?) "First, it appears to be just a handful of credible entrants, not exactly an avalanche." (Um, had someone mentioned an avalanche?) "Second, almost all of them use seven-inch screens as compared to iPad's near 10-inch screen."And then Jobs proceeded to devolve into a soliloquy on why his competitors' tablets would be "dead on arrival" due to their fragmented operating systems and their foolhardy commitment to the simply unusable 7-inch screen. "Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small and increase the size next year, thereby abandoning both customers and developers who jumped on the seven-inch bandwagon with an orphan product," warned the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. "Sounds like lots of fun ahead," said Jobs. Now ... Jobs may have a point, but when you're the head of Apple and you've just reported $20 billion in revenue for a quarter, is it really necessary to take cheap shots at those who haven't had a fraction of your success -- and at products that haven't even hit the market? Interestingly enough, when asked about his own business, Jobs' clairvoyance disappeared. "I try to not predict, I try to just report." What a difference a few minutes makes. And of course, Jobs' comments only succeeded in legitimizing the competition, opening the door for them to introduce to a whole new audience some of the reasons some people don't exactly love Apple.