Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs sharply criticized smartphone rivals Google and Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) Monday during a surprise appearance on the computing giant's quarterly earnings call. Google's Android mobile operating system was the target of Jobs' most barbed comments: "Google loves to characterize Android as open and iPhone as closed. We see this disingenuous and clouding the difference," Jobs said. "The first thing we think of when we hear open is Windows, which is available on a lot of devices. Unlike Windows, where PCs have the same interface, Android is very fragmented. HTC and Motorola install proprietary user interfaces to differentiate themselves. The user is left to figure it out."
The challenge extends to the developer community, Jobs added. "Twitter client TwitterDeck [sic] recently launched their Android app, and had to contend with 100 different versions of software on 244 different handsets. That's a daunting challenge. Many Android apps work only on selected handsets, or selected Android versions. This is for handsets that shipped 12 months ago. Compare that with iPhone, where are two versions to test against--the current version and the most recent predecessor."
Jobs didn't stop there. "In reality we think the open versus closed argument is just a smokescreen to try and hide the real issue, which is what's best for the customer--fragmented or integrated? We think Android is very fragmented and becoming more fragmented by the day. We prefer integrated, so the user doesn't have to be the systems integrator... We think integrated will trump fragmented every time. We think developers will be more innovative by focusing on one handset, rather than testing against a lot of hardware. No matter how many times Google tries to characterize it as closed, we are confident iPhone will triumph."
Apple reported fiscal Q4 revenues totaling $20.34 billion, up from $12.21 billion a year ago--the company sold 14.1 million iPhones during the quarter, almost double the 7.4 million sold in the year-ago quarter and smashing its previous record of 8.75 million units. In addition, Apple's App Store now boasts more than 300,000 applications for iPhone and iPod touch devices as well as more than 35,000 apps optimized expressly for the iPad tablet--the ranks of registered iOS developers now exceed 200,000.
Jobs rejoiced at iPhone's continued growth. Apple "handily beat RIM's 12.1 million BlackBerrys sold in their last quarter," he said. "We've now passed RIM. I don't see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future. It will be a challenge for them to create a mobile software platform and convince developers to support a third platform."
For more on Jobs' comments:
- read this AppleInsider article
For more on Apple's Q4 results:
- read this release
- and be sure to check out FierceWireless' Q3 earnings page
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