Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak had some kind words for the iPhone in a recent interview with a Dutch newspaper, while also suggesting that Google Android smartphones would eventually eclipse it in market share.
"When it comes to quality, iPhone is leading," De Telegraaf quotes Wozniak as saying in its Nov. 18 article. However, he added, "Android phones have more features." (Take into account that all Woz quotations here come courtesy of Google Translate.)
Wozniak claims that Apple developed a smartphone in conjunction with a Japanese company in 2004, but canceled it due to quality concerns. "If Apple comes with a new product, it must have a real breakthrough," he said. "Companies need to wait to capture a market until they have something extremely strong." Chronologically speaking, that canned smartphone would have beat the iPhone to market by three years.
The newspaper then paraphrases Wozniak as saying Android will overcome its early issues with software consistency, eventually achieving a polish comparable to Apple's iOS.
Wozniak later seemed to retract some of his statements, telling tech blog Engadget: "I'm not trying to put Android down, but I'm not suggesting it's better than iOS by any stretch of the imagination. But it can get greater market share and still be crappy."
Research firm Gartner plugged Android's global market share for the third quarter at 25.5 percent, lagging behind Symbian at 36.6 percent but ahead of Apple at 16.7 percent. Research In Motion and its BlackBerry franchise came in fourth at 14.8 percent of the market.
"This quarter saw Apple and Android drive record smartphone sales," Gartner Research Vice President Carolina Milanesi wrote in a Nov. 10 statement accompanying those numbers. "Apple's share of the smartphone market surpassed Research In Motion (RIM) in North America to put it second behind Android, while Android volumes also grew rapidly making it the No. 2 operating system worldwide."
Apple and Google also compete in the tablet arena, where the iPad currently holds the lion's share of the market. However, IMS Research predicts that Google's share of that market will increase to 15 percent by the end of next year and 28 percent by 2015, buoyed by products such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Even with that rise, the firm suggests the iPad will continue to hold 75 percent of the market by the end of 2011.
Other analysts suspect the tablet PC picture won't be the rosiest in coming months. In a November research note, Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar predicted that actual iPad sales for the holiday season would miss analysts' previous estimates of 6 million units, even as the Dell Streak and Samsung Galaxy Tab experienced low sales. "We do not see Tablets go the way of netbooks," he wrote. "But if current trends continue, the Tablet market may not end as much more than iPads or a tweener product between smartphones and next-generation thin-and-light notebooks a la Macbook Air."
However Apple and Android devices sell in the short term, though, the rivalry will almost certainly continue for years.