Steve Jobs vs. the world, part deux

Apple's CEO lashes out at Google Android and tablet PC makers, but they're not taking it lightly. Grab some popcorn, folks, and enjoy the fight

You'd think grown men would have better things to do than squabble like rabid squirrels fighting over a Brazil nut. But when it comes to the future of mobile computing, there is no such thing as fighting dirty. And more and more often, it all starts with Steve Jobs.

God's favorite CEO made a rare appearance at Apple's quarterly confab with financial analysts earlier this week, and he apparently had a lot to get off his faux turtleneck-covered chest about the future of 7-inch tablets (dim) and the value of "open" operating systems (dubious).

[ Also on InfoWorld: Ride the Apple roller coaster with Cringely in "Letter from a CEO: Steve Jobs responds to your email" | "Apple's Steve Jobs: He's no Old Spice Guy" | "The two faces of Steve (Jobs and Ballmer)" | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]

Here's some of what he had to say about Google Android, per Macworld's transcript of the call:

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. 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 OEMs, 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 all out. Compare this with iPhone, where every handset works the same....

You know, even if Google were right, and the real issue is “closed” versus “open,” it is worthwhile to remember that open systems don’t always win. Take Microsoft’s “Plays for Sure” music strategy, which used the PC model -- which Android uses as well -- of separating the software components from the hardware components. Even Microsoft finally abandoned this “open” strategy in favor of copying Apple’s integrated approach with their Zune player, unfortunately leaving their OEMs empty-handed in the process.

It didn't take long to get a response. Former Apple engineer turned Google Android chief Andy Rubin responded to Jobs' jibes about "openness" thusly via his first official tweet:

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

In case you didn't quite grok that, those are the instructions for downloading the source code for Android -- which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Google, Android, and Rubin. Geek much?

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