RIM, Google fire back at Apple's Jobs in smartphone war of words

Those are fighting words.

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) co-CEO Jim Balsillie in a statement blasted Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) CEO Steve Jobs, arguing that "many customers are getting tired of being told what to think by Apple."

Balsillie's statement was a response to comments Jobs made during a rare appearance on Apple's fiscal fourth quarter earnings conference call, where the Apple chief lauded his company's performance--more than $20 billion in revenue and 14.1 million iPhone sales. Jobs criticized RIM for not being able to move beyond the company's comfort zone of developing smartphones targeted to the enterprise, and noted that Apple's quarterly iPhone shipments surpassed RIM's 12.1 million BlackBerry shipments. "I don't see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future," Jobs said of RIM.

In response, RIM's Balsillie said that "for those of us who live outside of Apple's distortion field," Jobs' critiques missed the mark. Jobs dismissed 7-inch tablets as inferior to Apple's iPad. Balsillie said 7-inch tablets--like RIM's forthcoming PlayBook--will be a big part of the market, and that Apple's lack of support for Flash hurts customers and developers. He also said Jobs' sales comparison was off base because RIM's quarter included more summer months, when consumers typically purchase fewer smartphones.

Balsillie wasn't the only executive to respond to Jobs's criticisms. Andy Rubin, Google's vice president of engineering and the company's Android chief, used his first post on Twitter to respond to Jobs' claim that Android is not really an open platform. He posted a computer command that would allow a developer to start downloading Android and developing for the platform.

Additionally, Jobs cited Tweetdeck as an example of how the Android ecosystem is fragmented, which prompted a response from Tweetdeck CEO Iain Dodsworth.

"Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Errr nope, no we didn't. It wasn't," he wrote. Later he added, "We only have two guys developing on Android TweetDeck so that shows how small an issue fragmentation is."

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Business Insider article

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