Steve Jobs sounds off on Android, BlackBerry, and 7-inch tablets

Steve Jobs was a surprise guest on Apple's quarterly earnings call on Monday and he took the opportunity to pick apart Apple's competitors and reiterate Apple's product philosophy.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance at the company's quarterly earnings call on Monday afternoon and he used it as a soap box to pick apart Apple's competitors and reiterate Apple's position in the market along with its approach to building products.

Jobs said, "As most of you know, I usually don't participate in Apple earnings calls... But I just couldn't help dropping by for our first $20 billion quarter. I would like to chat about a few things."

Here is a selection of the most poignant quotes from Jobs on the call, organized into the five main topics:

1. Jobs on BlackBerry

"We sold 14.1 million iPhones in the quarter, which represents 91% unit growth over the year-ago quarter, and was well ahead of IDC's latest published estimate of 64% growth for the global smartphone market in the September quarter. And it handily beats RIM's 12.1 million BlackBerrys sold, in their most recent quarter ending in August. We've now passed RIM. And I don't see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future. 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. With 300,000 apps on Apple's App Store, RIM has a high mountain ahead of them to climb."

2. Jobs on Android

"Last week, Eric Schmidt reiterated that they are activating 200,000 Android devices per day, and have around 90,000 apps in their app store. For comparison, Apple has activated around 275,000 iOS devices per day on average for the past 30 days, with a peak of almost 300,000 iOS devices per day on a few of those days...

"Unfortunately, there is no solid data on how many Android phones are shipped each quarter. 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. Gartner reported that about 10 million Android phones were shipped in the June quarter, and we await to see if iPhone or Android was the winner in this most recent quarter...

"Twitter client [TweetDeck] recently launched their app for Android. They reported that they had to contend with more than a hundred different versions of Android software on 244 different handsets. The multiple hardware and software iterations present developers with a daunting challenge. Many Android apps work only on selected Android handsets, running selected Android versions. And this is for handsets that have been shipped less than 12 months ago. Compare this with iPhone, where there are two versions of the software, the current and the most recent predecessor, to test against."

3. Jobs on 'open' verses 'closed'

"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... 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 versus integrated?' We think Android is very, very fragmented, and becoming more fragmented by the day. And as you know, Apple strives for the integrated model so that the user isn't forced to be the systems integrator. We see tremendous value at having Apple, rather than our users, be the systems integrator. We think this a huge strength of our approach compared to Google's. When selling the users who want their devices to just work, we believe that integrated will trump fragmented every time.

"And we also think that our developers could be more innovative if they can target a singular platform, rather than a hundred variants. They can put their time into innovative new features, rather than testing on hundreds of different handsets. So we are very committed to the integrated approach, no matter how many times Google tries to characterize it as 'closed.' And we are confident that it will triumph over Google's fragmented approach, no matter how many times Google tries to characterize it as 'open.'"

4. Jobs on 7-inch tablets

"I'd like to comment on the 'avalanche' of tablets poised to enter the market in the coming months. First, it appears to be just a handful of credible entrants, not exactly an avalanche. Second, almost all of them use 7-inch screens, as compared to iPad's near 10-inch screens. Let's start there. One naturally thinks that a 7-inch screen would offer 70 percent of the benefits of a 10-inch screen. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The screen measurements are diagonal, so that a 7-inch screen is only 45 percent as large as iPad's 10-inch screen...

"The seven-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone, and too small to compete with an iPad... Almost all of these new tablets use Android software, but even Google is telling the tablet manufacturers not to use their current release — Froyo — for tablets, and to wait for a special tablet release next year. What does it mean when your software supplier says not to use their software in your tablet, and what does this mean when you ignore them and use it anyway?"

"Our potential competitors are having a tough time coming close to iPad's pricing, even with their far smaller, far less expensive screens. The iPad incorporates everything we've learned about building high-value products, from iPhones, iPods and Macs. We create our own A4 chip, our own software, our own battery chemistry, our own enclosure, our own everything. And this results in an incredible product at a great price. The proof of this will be in the pricing of our competitors' products, which will likely offer less, for more. These are among the reasons that we think that the current crop of 7-inch tablets are going to be DOA — Dead on Arrival. Their manufacturers will learn the painful lesson that their tablets are too small, and increase the size next year, thereby abandoning both customers and developers who jumped on the seven-inch bandwagon with an orphaned product."

4. Jobs on iPad

"The iPad is clearly gonna affect notebook computers. And I think the iPad proves it's not a question of if, it's a question of when. And there's I think a lot of development and progress over the next few years. But we're already seeing tremendous interest in iPad from education and, much to my surprise, from business. We haven't pushed it real hard in business, and it's being grabbed out of our hands. And I talk to people every day in business, in all kinds of businesses, that are using iPads. All the way from boards of directors that are shipping iPads around instead of board books, down to nurses and doctors and hospitals, and other large and small businesses.

"So the more time that passes, the more I am convinced that we've got a tiger by the tail here, and this is a new model of computing which, you know, we've already got tens of millions of people already trained on with the iPhone. And that lends itself to lots of different aspects of life, both personal, educational, and business. So I see it as very general purpose, and I see it as really big. And the timing, one could argue about the timing endlessly, but I don't think one could argue that it's gonna happen anymore."

Also read


Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.

Editor's Picks