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Back in October, Apple CEO Steve Jobs took the unusual step of participating in his company’s earnings call. Competing tablets had no chance against the iPad, he told assembled media and analysts, particularly those with a 7-inch form factor.

“Almost all [competing devices] use 7-inch screens as opposed to the iPad’s almost 10-inch screen.” He added that, if you compare the diagonal lengths of a 7-inch and 10-inch screen, the former is “only 45 percent as large.”

At that time, the iPad’s chief competitors included the then-newly announced Samsung Galaxy Tab, along with the upcoming PlayBook from Research In Motion—both with 7-inch screens, and both seemingly more than capable of attracting consumer and business customers. Soon afterward, Dell announced its 7-inch Streak. It seemed like Apple’s rivals were intent on proving Jobs wrong.

But, now, the pendulum seems to be swinging the other way. Several upcoming devices, including Hewlett-Packard’s TouchPad, the Motorola Xoom and Samsung’s next-generation Galaxy Tab, all seem determined to take the screen-size fight directly to the iPad. Samsung’s tablet and the Motorola Xoom both feature a 10.1-inch screen, while the TouchPad measures 9.7 inches. Toshiba’s tablet device, currently in the works, will boast similar screen dimensions. HTC’s announcement at this week’s Mobile World Congress of its 7-inch Flyer tablet, running a hybridized Android 2.4, suddenly seems more like the exception than the rule.

And for all the rumors swirling around the next-generation iPad, nobody seems to be suggesting its screen will be any smaller than the first generation’s 9.7 inches.

For more, read the eWeek article: Motorola Xoom, TouchPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Alter iPad Rivalry.