If the gloves between Google and Apple weren’t off already, they sure are now.
Responding to Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s definition of Apple’s iPhone ecosystem as a closed platform, Apple CEO Steve Jobs lashed out at Google’s Android mobile operating system model on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call Oct. 18.
Apple posted revenues of $20.34 billion, and a net quarterly profit of $4.31 billion. Apple also sold 14.1 million iPhones for the quarter, buoyed by sales of the iPhone 4 that launched in June.
With the record iPhone sales card in his deck, Jobs offered a six-minute, scripted screed in which he called Google’s claims that Android is open source a “smokescreen.”
Jobs echoed a frequent criticism of Android by industry analysts and media when he noted that Android’s openness is a fallacy because hardware manufacturers and carriers take the OS code and impose their own restrictions and proprietary technologies on top of the phones Android powers.
For example, Motorola puts the Motoblur user interface on its Android smartphones, while HTC Sense is another proprietary UI. Carriers such as Verizon Wireless and Sprint put their own custom applications on their Android devices-applications people haven’t asked for.
By contrast, consumers get what they expect when they pay for an iPhone: an opportunity to download their choice any of the 300,000 verified applications from Apple’s App Store.
Jobs’ rant against Google starts around the 15-minute mark of the earnings call, which readers can listen to here. Here is an excerpt from Jobs’ impassioned speech:
“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. The first thing most of us think about when we hear the word “open” is Windows, which is available on a variety of devices. Unlike Windows, however, where most PCs have the same user interface and run the same apps, Android is very fragmented. Many Android OEMs, including the two largest, 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 iPhone, where every handset works the same [way].
“Twitterdeck [he meant 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. … Compare this with iPhone, where there are two versions of the software, the current and the most recent predecessor, to test against.”
Jobs also noted that Amazon, Verizon and Vodafone have all announced that they are creating their own app stores for Android, further fragmenting the Android marketplace. “This is going to be a mess for both users and developers.
“Contrast this with Apple’s integrated App Store, which offers users the easiest to use, largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone. Apple’s app store has over three times as many apps as Google’s marketplace, and offers developers one-stop shopping to get their apps to market easily, and get paid swiftly.”