Steve Jobs Knocks On Google and RIM During Earnings Call, Thus Sparking A Debate

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:CEO) Steve Jobs normally does not appear on earnings calls, but he did this past week. And he decided to go to town on his rivals. Jobs knocked on the “openness” of Google Android and RIM’s tablet computer. This sparked a debate. Below is some of the things that Jobs said and what some of the responses were.

Jobs said that 14.1 million iPhones were sold during the quarter. This is a 91% unit growth over the year. This beats RIM’s 12.1 million BlackBerry devices sold during the quarter ended in August. “And I don’t see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future.” He added that RIM will have a challenge convincing developers to create apps for them too.

Jobs then turned the focus on Google. He said that Eric Schmidt reported that Android was activating over 200,000 devices per day and have around 90,000 apps in their app store. Jobs said that in comparison Apple is activating 275,000 iOS devices per day for the last 30 days with a peak of over 300,000 per day. And Apple has over 300,000 applications per day. Jobs said that there is no solid data from Android manufacturers about how many units are shipped each quarter.

“Google loves to characterize Android as open and iOS and iPhone as closed,” said Jobs. “We find this about a bit disingenuous and clouding the real difference between our two approaches.” Jobs pointed out that the Android OEMs install their own proprietary software on top of Android and users have to figure it all out. Every iPhone works the same.

Jobs said that Twitterdeck [He actually meant Tweetdeck] recently released an Android application. In that process, they said that they had to contend with over 100 different versions of Android software on over 244 different handsets. He said that this is a daunting challenge for developers because of all the fragmentation involved.

Jobs then commented on tablets that use 7-inch screens while the iPad has a 10-inch screen. He said that you would think that 7-inch screens offer a 70% benefit of the 10-inch screen. But he said that the 7-inches is a diagonal measurement so a 7-inch screen is only 45% as large as an iPad 10-inch screen. “This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps in our opinion.” Jobs concluded by saying that 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA.

Below are some of the responses to Jobs
1. Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM disagreed that 7-inch tablets will not be a part of the tablet market. Below is the statement that Balsillie made (notice the reference to Adobe Flash):

For those of us who live outside of Apple’s distortion field, we know that 7-inch tablets will actually be a big portion of the market and we know that Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real web experience,” Balsillie said in his response. “We also know that while Apple’s attempt to control the ecosystem and maintain a closed platform may be good for Apple, developers want more options and customers want to fully access the overwhelming majority of web sites that use Flash.

Balsillie also criticized Jobs reporting of the BlackBerry sales numbers:

RIM has achieved record shipments for five consecutive quarters and recently shared guidance of 13.8 (million to) 14.4 million BlackBerry smartphones for the current quarter. Apple’s preference to compare its September-ending quarter with RIM’s August-ending quarter doesn’t tell the whole story because it doesn’t take into account that industry demand in September is typically stronger than summer months, nor does it explain why Apple only shipped 8.4 million devices in its prior quarter and whether Apple’s Q4 results were padded by unfulfilled Q3 customer demand and channel orders.

2. Tweetdeck CEO Iain Dodsworth sent out the following messages on Twitter:

“Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Errr nope, no we didn’t. It wasn’t.”
”We only have 2 guys developing on Android TweetDeck so that shows how small an issue fragmentation is.”

3. Google Vice President of Engineering Andy Rubin, also known as the “father of Android” sent out the following tweet:

the definition of open: ‘mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git:// ; repo sync ; make’.


Joe Hewitt seemed to agree with Jobs on why Google should not claim that they are an open platform. Hewitt helped create Firefox, development tool FireBug, and is currently a prominent executive at Facebook. He developed some of the first few versions of the Facebook iPhone application. Below are some of the tweets that Hewitt sent out (via TechCrunch):

Compare the Android “open source” model to Firefox or Linux if you want to see how disingenuous that “open” claim is.

Until Android is read/write open, it’s no different than iOS to me. Open source means sharing control with the community, not show and tell.

I think it is the lack of visibility into daily progress that bothers me about Android more than the lack of write access.

Refusing to share your vision and progress until the big event… how very open.

@mclazarus true open source projects have a process for earning checkin privileges.

Point I am trying to make is, Rubin bickering with Jobs is a farce, because both refuse to share the one thing that matters: control.

@risaacs99 I am saying they are doing the bare minimum, but boasting as if they are on the level of Linux or Firefox, or even Chrome OS.

@risaacs99 like Rubin bragging about how downloading a months old code dump is the definition of open.

This article was written by Amit Chowdhry. You can follow me at @amitchowdhry or on Google+ at
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