Steve Jobs: Google Android isn't really that open
Published 19/10/2010 | 11:41
Apple’s chief executive, Steve Jobs, said that Google's mobile platform was "fragmented" and bad for developers and consumers.
Steve Jobs launched in to an astonishing five-minute critique of rival companies, operating systems and platforms during the earnings call, in which Apple announced record profits of $20bn for the quarter.
He said that the Google Android platform was “fragmented”, and not as open as some people made out, while also saying that iPad-style tablet computers with smaller 7in screens would be “dead on arrival”.
“Google loves to characterise Android as ‘open’ and iOS and the iPhone as ‘closed’,” said Jobs. “We find this a bit disingenuous, and clouding the real difference between our two approaches.
“Android is very fragmented. 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 the iPhone, where every handset works the same.”
He said the fragmentation of the Android platform left developers facing a “daunting challenge”.
“Many Android apps only work on selected Android handsets, running selected Android versions. Compare this with iPhone, where there are two versions of the software, the current and the most recent predecessor, to test against.”
Jobs said that while Apple maintained a single point of access to apps through its App Store, Google’s Marketplace often coexisted with the app store of whichever network operator ran the phone, creating “a mess for both users and developers”.
“We think the ‘open’ versus ‘closed’ argument is a smokescreen to try and hide the real issue, which is, ‘What’s best for the consumer – fragmented versus integrated?’,” said Jobs.
“We think Android is becoming very, very fragmented. And as you know, Apple strives for the integrated model so that the user isn’t forced to be the systems integrator.
“We are committed to the integrated approach, no matter how many times Google tries to characterise it as closed. And we are confident we will triumph over Google’s fragmented approach.”
Jobs also used the call to dismiss the prospects of so-called “iPad killers” that are being launched by a variety of consumer electronics companies, including Samsung and Dell.
He said the decision of most manufacturers to opt for 7in screens, rather than the larger 9.7in display found on the iPad, was a mistake.
“One naturally thinks that a 7in screen would offer 70pc of the benefits of a 10in screen,” said Jobs.
“Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a 7in screen is only 45pc as large as the iPad’s screen.
“This size isn’t sufficient to create great tablet apps, in our opinion.”
He said that smaller tablets should come with sandpaper, “so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one-quarter their present size” in order to make the device usable.
“The 7in tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone, and too small to compete with an iPad,” said Jobs.
Jobs’ decision to appear on the earnings call raised eyebrows. He normally leaves the job to his chief financial officer, Peter Oppenheimer, and chief operating officer, Tim Cook.
Some industry insiders questioned whether his appearance was designed to deflect some of the attention away from worse than expected iPad sales of just 4.2 million for the quarter, far less than Wall Street analysts had predicted.
But Jobs remained bullish about the iPad’s prospects. “We’re already seeing tremendous interest in the iPad from education and, to my surprise, from business. It’s getting grabbed out of our hands.
“The more that time passes, the more I’m convinced that we’ve got a tiger by the tail, here,” he said.