Apple CEO Steve Jobs attacked BlackBerry maker Research In Motion during his company's Oct. 18 earnings call. Now the Canadians feel compelled to strike back-with words, at least.
"We've now passed RIM, and I don't see them catching up with us in the immediate future," Jobs told media and analysts on the call. "I think it's going to be a challenge for them to create a competitive platform. ... With 300,000 apps in Apple's App Store, RIM has a high mountain to climb."
RIM and Apple combat on two fronts. In the enterprise, the BlackBerry franchise is attempting to hold its ground against fierce competition from both the Apple iPhone and Google Android, which have both made inroads among executives and workers. And RIM is preparing a 7-inch tablet, the PlayBook, which will face off against Apple's bestselling iPad.
Jobs took swipes at the viability of 7-inch tablets, arguing that the smaller screen size would dishearten customers. But at least one RIM executive has decided to push back against Jobs' assertions-and some of Apple's Web policies.
"For those of us who live outside of Apple's distortion field, we know that 7-inch tablets will actually be a big portion of the market," Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM, wrote in an Oct. 19 corporate blog posting, "and we know that Adobe Flash support actually matters to customers who want a real Web experience."
In a move seemingly tailor-made to raise blood pressures in Cupertino, Balsillie then launched head-on at Apple's refusal to support Flash. "While Apple's attempt to control the ecosystem and maintain a closed platform may be good for Apple," he wrote, "developers want more options and customers want to fully access the overwhelming majority of Websites that use Flash."
And then, unsatisfied with that broadside, Balsillie loaded his cannons with quarterly numbers. "And by the way, RIM has achieved record shipments for five consecutive quarters and recently shared guidance of 13.8-14.4 million BlackBerry smartphones for the current quarter," he added. "Apple's preference to compare its September-ending quarter with RIM's August-ending quarter doesn't tell the whole story."
Balsillie also accuses Apple of padding its fourth-quarter results "by unfulfilled [third-quarter] customer demand and channel orders."
For the fiscal 2010 fourth quarter, Apple reported sales of 4.19 million iPads-a significant increase from the 3.27 million sold during the tablet PC's inaugural quarter. In addition, it reported sales of 14.1 million iPhones, 3.89 million Macs and 9.05 million iPods.
"As usual, whether the subject is antennas, Flash or shipments, there is more to the story," Balsillie concluded in his blog posting, "and sooner or later, even people inside the distortion field will begin to resent being told half a story."