Steve Jobs doesn't usually make a guest appearance on Apple's post-earnings conference calls with analysts, but after Apple's first $20 billion quarter, he made an exception. The result was an instant classic, as Apple's CEO laid out how he views the phone and tablet markets, taking shots at Google and Research In Motion (RIM) and ripping the idea of a seven-inch tablet.
Blowing past BlackBerry
Jobs started by taking on BlackBerry-maker RIM by explaining that RIM is fading in Apple's rearview mirror. In the just-concluded quarter, Apple sold 14.1 million iPhones, compared to 12.1 million BlackBerries sold in RIM's most recently-reported quarter, which ended in August.
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"We've now passed RIM, and I don't see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future," Jobs said. "They must move beyond their area of strength and comfort into the unfamiliar territory of trying to become a software platform company. I think it's going to be a challenge for them to create a competitive platform and to convince developers to create apps for yet a third software platform, after iOS and Android. ... RIM has a high mountain ahead of them to climb."
Debating with Google
Jobs focused most of his remarks on Android, Google's competing smartphone operating system. He openly questioned the reality of Android market-share statistics and attacked the search giant for marketing its operating system as "open" versus Apple's "closed" iOS.
"Last week, Eric Schmidt reiterated that they are activating around 200,000 Android devices per day," Jobs said. "For comparison, Apple has activated around 275,000 iOS devices per day on average for the last 30 days, with a peak of almost 300,000 iOS devices per day on a few of those days."
The Apple CEO lamented the lack of tangible data about the number of Android phones that are actually shipped. "Unfortunately, there is no solid data... we hope that manufacturers will soon start reporting the number of Android handsets they ship each quarter, but today that just isn't the case... We await to see if iPhone or Android was the winner in the most recent quarter."
Jobs moved on to attack Google's characterization of Android as a more open platform than Apple's as a disingenuous attempt to obfuscate the reality of how Android differs from the iOS.
"Google loves to characterize Android as 'open' and iOS and iPhone as 'closed.' We find this a bit disingenuous, and clouding the real difference between our two approaches," Jobs said. "The first thing most of us think about when we hear the word 'open' is Windows, which is available on a variety of devices. Unlike Windows, however, where most PCs have the same user interface and run the same apps, Android is very fragmented. Many Android [manufacturers], including the two largest, HTC and Motorola, install proprietary user interfaces to differentiate themselves from the commodity Android experience. The user's left to figure it out. Compare this to iPhone, where every handset works the same."