Setting the stage for 2011: Why Steve Jobs took a flamethrower to BlackBerry and Android

Why did Steve Jobs show up on an Apple financial results call, something he's done in the past but doesn't typically do, and more importantly why did go all Samuel L. Jackson on RIM's BlackBerry and Google's Android, something not typically done on any results call? After all, there's an Apple event coming up on Wednesday where no doubt Jobs will be center stage, in front of almost the entire blogsphere and half the internet at large. Why not wait for then?

Because this was about mobile and about iOS, and about iOS' place in mobile, and Wednesday is purely Back to the Mac. The next iOS-centric event likely won't be until January 2011 for iPad 2 and by then the all-important holiday quarter will be over, RIM's BlackBerry Playbook will be closer to launch, a million more Android devices will be on the market, and Microsoft and Palm might be getting back into the game.

Right now, today, Apple posted unbelievable numbers -- 14.1 million iPhones sold and 4.1 million iPads -- they beat RIM's BlackBerry numbers this quarter and given the way Jobs was strutting, they likely beat the numbers of every Android device sold as well. This was Jobs on top of the mountain, seizing the high ground, and striking.

First he hit RIM, not just in the sales numbers but in the technology where it hurts. The Torch didn't ignite anybody and the PlayBook is little more than a video at this point, their next-generation QNX still a ways off. But he called them out as a hardware company, as people who piece together model after iterative model, not craft platforms. He shone a spotlight on their lack of developer support and high quality apps and he did it in a time when they're transitioning from the past to the future and can't show off anything in the present to refute him. Then he and Tim Cook touted iPhone and iPad enterprise adoption, just to kick RIM while they're down: it's not that BlackBerry isn't competitive, it's that they're not even competing.

Next was Google, whom Jobs acknowledged as Apple's chief mobile competition and the only other platform succeeding in the space. Those were about the only kind words he had for them, however, as he proceeded to cut into the heart of the argument Eric Schmidt has been foisting for months: the value of "openness".

Here Jobs conveniently conflated openness with decoupled hardware and software, and Apple's closed with integrated hardware and software. That let him liken Android to Windows and Microsoft's abandoned PlaysForSure DRM strategy. Neither good analogies. Where Jobs did hit home, however, is equating open to fragmented. That's the manifestation of the philosophy and as much weakness as strength -- you can get any device you want, but every device will therefor be different. With choice comes challenge. Jobs acknowledged some consumers might prefer that but staunchly and steadfastly repeated that he thinks Apple's business model is better -- their phones are consistent, they just work, and they don't require the end user to be a systems integrator.

Jobs spoke not only to the analysts on the call and the influencers who were following (and blogging) it, but to developers, citing TweetDeck as an example of an app that had to be coded for 100 different versions of Android running on 244 different devices, where iOS typically has 2 versions (current and one previous) and largely binary compatible devices. He also pointed out that while Android still struggles to sell apps, and Verizon, Vodafone, and Amazon look to fragment Android Market, Apple has a unified App Store with unified billing and customers that pay for apps.

Lastly was tablets. Of the few current and impending iPad competitors, many are using a smaller 7-inch screen and Jobs thinks they have no idea what they're doing. Clearly Apple has tested 7-inch iPads internally (and likely other sizes), and rumors of Apple releasing one keep popping up on the internet, but Jobs' couldn't have been plainer: 7-inch tablets are terrible.

Jobs maintains the screen size sounds almost as big as the iPad's 9.7-inch display but since those are diagonal measures actual real-estate is only 48% the size and Apple (meaning Jobs) doesn't think you can make great tablet software on a screen that size. Everyone who currently buys a tablet already has a smartphone for small scale mobile computing, Jobs says, and 7-inch screens don't allow for the software needed to make really great tablet apps. The UI elements are too small or too close or too few and far between. They're tweeners, too big for the pocket too small to really work.

And he thinks that due to Apple's incredible economies of scale -- essentially the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, and now Apple TV share most of the same guts and Apple designs everything from chipsets to battery chemistry to enclosures themselves -- their competitors won't be able to match iPad's pricing. They'll provide half as much value at twice the cost, and next year they'll figure out post-release what Apple did pre-release, abandon their 7-inch tablets, and leave users and developers high and dry. That's extremism for absurdities sake, of course, but it creates the impression Apple is that far ahead of the curve.

The reason, which Jobs touched on several times, is that Apple is a software company in a hardware-centric industry. He even accused competitors of making the cheapest hardware they could and then crossing their fingers and hoping their after-thought software would fix it. Apple decides on the software they want and painstakingly crafts and integrates the hardware to support it. And then every year they iterate, improve, and offer more for the same price as less.

Because unlike Nokia -- and netbook makers based on prior statements -- Apple's not willing to make cheap products that suck.

All of this, taken together, let Jobs set the stage for the holiday season precisely how he wanted it set. Now journalists can use any of these loaded quotes to accompany everything they write about RIM, Google or Nokia, or Microsoft or Palm. Instead of effusing on openness they've been primed with fragmentation, instead of extolling 7-inch tablets they're thinking Apple tried and rejected that form factor as sub-standard, instead of promoting Android numbers they have 14.1 million iPhone 4 and 125 million iOS devices to add Apple-specific context with.

Developers flirting with the idea of diving into Android are left think again about the easy 70% from the App Store versus the picture Jobs painted of a broken, commercially unproven, wild-west market for Android where you rolls your dice and takes your chances whether they'll even fit on the table, or the struggling and still largely empty App World from RIM.

And by ignoring Microsoft and Palm, Jobs dismissed them as non-contenders right when they're about to come to market, or come back to market.

It was a masterful show from a master showman, showing just how critical the mobile space is to Apple going forward. (As if the Mac OS X vs. iOS numbers didn't make that plain enough).

Developer and consumer mindshare is what shape the mobile battlefield, and Jobs clearly stated Apple is in it to win it.

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Setting the stage for 2011: Why Steve Jobs took a flamethrower to BlackBerry and Android


definitely won't be buying a new iPhone now for my boyfriend. He has had a good (not perfect, sometimes things on his phone don't "just work") run of his device, but my HTC Hero has been perfect since I got it last year. Sure, it has slowdowns (as do iPhones), but my entire device didn't bug out and get completely wiped with no way to restore after updates.
There are things I miss about having an iPhone (not having a chin, the apps are much better than android has in terms of ui, though not necessarily power, I miss all the accessories just for my phone), and I only have the Hero because my sister got it for me to celebrate my boyfriend and I being together 10 years (yay not being able to marry). But I can't see myself with an iPhone with the sins I see being committed by its creator. It is like hating the guy who saved your life 10 times because his partner is a total bitch and won't stop nagging you until you leave.
TL;DR iPhone is amazing, Jobs makes it leave a bad aftertaste

@weave I've had the 3G for 2 years now and it isn't buggy. And if you backup you will always have a restore point after an update. Why would you post that on an iPhone blog site?
Anyways, great read Rene! Jobs is the man. Can't wait for wednesday

@Joost: That's what I thought it might be at first as well, but Jobs got way into it. It was like when he went after Flurry during the D8 conference. Now I think he thinks he's right and was making his case (and might have been slightly pissed he had to).

@Andrew exactly. He's not scared to say what he thinks and how he sees things. He knows his company puts out some of the best if not the best products today!

Now, can you at least up the specs of the MacBook? C2D is geriatric already and please add a dedicated GPU. MacBook and MacBook Pro's CPUs are aging. I am desperately waiting for at least a Core i3.

Core i's are only on the 15" and 17". I want an upgraded Specs for the 13". Some people, like me, perhaps are holding off buying a new 13" Mac because of aging hardware. That would give people more reason to buy a new Mac this holiday.

I am seeing the bell curve of adoption and I bought into smart-phones back in 08 when the court of public opinion did not matter it was either you had one or not. When we started moving up the curve, I am wondering when net neutrality and mobile tech are going to converge and the back side of the curve is used to scour out the ideas of every person who owns one.

Windows is not open Lenux is and android and lenux are very similar with all that fragmentation stuff with different UIs and stuff ect. That is just a trade off of open source like Rene Ritchie says every week.

He can kick RIM while their down, they deserve it for being so lazy to get anything competent to the market for awhile. As for him picking on Android, its just like Windows...he will not win the battle, defeat is inevitable so its best to try and trash the platform to keep the zealots on your side.
I will say he's right on about the tablet size, I have zero purpose for a device just 3 inches bigger than my Galaxy S. Hell I have zero purpose for an iPad as well when my Galaxy S can do everything it can and then some.

Follow da heard you sheeps! Android is good and bad since its open to the manufactures heck they let motorola rove google as da default n replaced it with bing! Steve can hate all he wants but at the end of the day competition is always good for the end user!

Tweetdeck was not "coded for 100 platforms" -- it was coded for one platform, and several modifications had to be made for a few variants. The Tweetdeck blog even mentioned they thought "how cool" it was that their app ran on 244 variant handsets (including custom ROMs) without much intervention on their part. Even insinuating that any more than a few UI tweaks and bugfixes had to be made is a gross misrepresentation.
Does that mean Android has no problem with fragmentation? Of course not. Compared to iOS, it most certainly does. That last 15% of QA on Android is far more complicated than the equivalent stage under iOS, no question. But let's not get crazy here - while it could mushroom into something bigger, it is not a huge deal (yet).

And have to say Steve Jobs is an idiot. Look at your dang smartphone. They have great apps at that small screen size, if you can make great apps on the iPhone screen, you can make great apps for any screen as long as you do it well.

I agree on 7 inch screen being too small. I'm waiting on the iPad 2 to come out but I wont be getting one if they make the screen any smaller than what it is now. I also agree that Android is the closet competition to iOS but hate the fact that some of the recent (within a year) hand sets aren't able to run some of the newest updates.

Steves' rant seems to be more marketing, some of which is loosely based on facts (as pointed out by (copy of) dev)). There's nothing wrong with that tho, when you consider googles playground style insults and microsofts thriller style funereal - after all it's all about trashing the competition.
..speaking of which i'm off to android central to leave idiotic posts on their site like some jilted ex-lover with an inferiority complex - or would that be pathetic ?
@the webs we weave
pretty jealous that im not in a relationship like yours where my next smartphone depends on how much you like the CEO..

after Jobs rant I will never buy another apple product. The man is nuts. He is sniffing all the money from last quarters results and its gone to his head. I think he is on a ego trip and its scary. I dont care what other device I get but it wont be this nut "jobs" companies stuff.

I guess Steve figured it was time for the empire to strike back. There have been too many cheap shots at Apple from people at Google who should know better. Hey Schmidt: tell your drones to leave the cheap shots to Ballmer.

I think in general he was right on about 7 inch tablets. I do not think the size of the iPad is what is bad about it, I think that after reading with it for a few minutes it becomes excruciatingly heavy. A lighter iPad is what I want, not a smaller one. A smaller screen would defeat the purpose of having a tablet, which is to have a bigger screen than your phone.

Well, praising your product is one thing. Specifically going after the competition like that (to me at least) is either insecurity or blatant egoism. Honestly I think it's the first; the numbers and predictions regarding the Android OS over iOS in market share has rattled Appleland.
And I realize this his hindsight now, but it wouldn't surprise me if Steve's rant was also an attempt to smokescreen the fact investors aren't too thrilled with Apple's margins (which seems to be playing out with Apple's stock drop today). People seem to expect nothing but perfection from Apple and even the small faults punish them hard.

Poor little Stevey obviously has gotten his feelings hurt...he's a little scared of the competition, huh? Pretty smart though, to misrepresent critical data like that whole "Tweetdeck" thing, putting a negative spin on the situation which 95% of all consumers will read and just immediately believe.

Tweetdeck CEO: "Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Errr nope, no we didn't. It wasn't."
Danny Sullivan: "Jobs said @tweetdeck said had to "content" w/Android frag as if pro. TweetDeck actually said "pretty cool""
Response from tweetdeck CEO: "@dannysullivan yes exactly! We only have 2 guys developing on Android TweetDeck so that shows how small an issue fragmentation is" and

I think Jobs is starting to lose it. He completely missed the point of "open" and also spewed a large amount of false information and propaganda about android, development for android and the android stores.
Maybe not having the "coolest" device and OS anymore is taking a hit on him. Poor Stevie. Learn to adapt (and occasionally loose)!.

So the massive numbers makes him scared of competition? That's insane. He is just a man who is standing by his product. And trying to sell them by any means necessary. As he should. A few others have made some great points. The best one by far is that the percentage of techies that actually care about all this is small. Most people want to just use it and go. Remember all you guys that said iPad wasn't going to do great. Now you have computer manufactures CEOs saying that Apple has put a dent across the board to all computer sales. It takes a lot of work and smarts to make a device as easy to use as these iOS devices.

Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Errr nope, no we didn't. It wasn't.
about 6 hours ago via TweetDeck
Retweeted by 72 people
Reply Retweet
From the tweetdeck CEO basically Jobs is showing his fear of competition. Yeah...
I mean, I can't blame him. After his company was mutilated in the MS vs Apple war...who would blame him for being defensive of the past repeating itself.
I saw nothing there that hold merits. The example company he used even said his assertions were wrong. Sooooo....hmm.
I'll continue to watch the landscape and see how it plays out rather than instantly taking some angry man's words as unbiased and factful.

.....I say to you all...honestly...i mean really...WTF CARES ABOUT FRAG? Shall we name all the things android can do that the i-phone..doesn't even come close to being able to do? To each his own...for someone who wants a cell phone..that is placed in the smartphone category that 'just works' then iphone is the perfect thing for you...if you want a phone that does that and so much more android is for you...point blank period...the only reason there is room for debate here is the stylishness if you will of the iphone and the the fact that because android is so open some 'lower end' devices also get the 'android system'. And some take that to be the experience for android across the board.....Take a Galaxy S...EVO 4g....or any of the newer high end android devices and we can go from point to point in comparison with the I-phone and the iphone will lose every time. at that point when most i-phone fans realize that as fact based on specs and ability as well as 'openness' if you will then comes the stupid discussion about frag etc...i mean cmon shut up..ur not a developer you are a consumer start to understand the difference ...and if you like the iphone cool then enjoy ur device but don't down another device and call ur device superior when really that isn't factual at all. I've said it before and i will say it now...this goes for android to...just because something sells lots of units in no way makes it the some point certain things just become the 'cool thing to do'.....the iphone for me and many who like android is just a 'long running fad' if you will...ive seen 7 year olds with them who dont know anything about what a phone can do. It can be likened to Justin everybody likes him..but is he the best singer..dancer,,,songwriter etc...nope.

wow. Jobs must be feeling the heat! He has just absolutely lost it, hasn't he?
I'm constantly amazed at how many people hang on his every psychotic word, and take it as gospel. Then, when he changes he tune on something that he didn't understand in the first place, everyone conveniently forgets that he said something else originally. It's kind of like they are all whispering "ssshhhhh, don't mention that! It will embarrass him!"
So 7" tablets are a horrible idea that is DOA, huh? Guess we'll see. Seems to me that "Flash on mobile is a horrible idea that is DOA" was the last hill that he planned to die on, only to change his mind.
Someday Steve Jobs will learn that just holy wars can get you killed.

"only the paranoid survive" -Andy Grove
"let me just say that a strategic inflection point is a time in the life of a business when its fundamentals are about to change. That change can mean an opportunity to rise to new heights. But it may just as likely signal the beginning of the end" -Andy Grove
If Jobs isn't paranoid, both in offense and defense, against his competition, he isn't doing his job. He probably doesn't have to talk about it out in the open, but paranoia in the strategic business sense is a good thing. This is normal.

I understand some of the commenters here. I mean, I went to buy apples yesterday, and there were both Fujis and Granny Smiths! Not only that, but they had them at both Vons and Albertsons! I was so confused, I went home hungry. I only hope that someday, somebody can make fruit shopping easy enough for me!

Quoted from
"Speaking of Twitterdeck (erm, Tweetdeck), here's what CEO Iain Dodsworth had to say about the whole thing (via All Things D): "Did we at any point say it was a nightmare developing on Android? Errr nope, no we didn't. It wasn't."
Now who do I believe? Angry-at-the-success-of-the-competition Jobs or a real dev who developed for all Android devices in real life (aka no-speculation)? 'nuff said :D

Remember back in the 80's Jobs was talking up Macintosh and we all thought it was going to be the second coming? We all thought Apple was going to rule the world and then Gates comes along and tells us hey, buy whatever hardware you want but use my OS...and we did. If Jobs would have given up the whole, it has to be our hardware crap, we would all be using Mac's right now.
And almost thirty years later Jobs creates the Iphone, and he touts how great it is and it's all because the hardware is specifically tailored for the software. Yep, heard this argument before. If history repeats itself, then Jobs is going to lose yet again but this time it will be Google who smacks him down instead of M$.
People want choice and users are much more tech savvy then they were 10 or 20 years ago. We want to config our phones with custom roms, we want to learn how they work, we want to install software we want without exception, and yes for the most part we want it free. Google has taught us that FOSS can succeed and that business can profit from it. I can't tell you how Apples Iphone software works because Jobs won't let me. I am no propeller head but because I can hack my Droid I have learned a little about how the software works, how the phone boots.....and how I need to reload the software after I screwed something up and it won't boot anymore. Sometimes it's not about the technology it's about learning, and this is why I find the Droid so fun.
If you are younger than 40 yrs old, and you remember the days before technology was at our fingertips, you will remember how much we loved tinkering with our cars. Adjusting the carb, installing some cherry bombs, changing the gear ratio in the rear end. We learned how to problem solve, to think logically, to fix something that broke because we knew that all we needed was a good manual or a friend who already tweaked his car and was more than eager to share what he had learned.
Yes Mr. Jobs your phone does work well and it does just what you tell us it can do.......but me and my Droid are going rogue.

@ (Copy of) Dev Ha, genius, lmao.
But I mean it's ridiculous. All we keep hearing is fragmentation this and that. Yet consumers are yelling nothing. They seem to spend more and more on this "fragmented hell" that bloggers and Steve Jobs seem to speak of.
Why oh WHY is it that a CEO of a rival company and bloggers (who normally praise Apple's iPhone) are whining more than the people who buy them. =\
That's the big question. I mean...has Steve Jobs even used an Android phone. The way he doesn't seem likely.

"That’s extremism for absurdities sake, of course, but it creates the illusion Apple is that far ahead of the curve." <-- Fixed
All this fragmentation nonsense, the fact of the matter is, the typical end-use of an Android device doesn't know and or care. Jobs is simply trying to make it an issue by blabbing about how horrible it is, with an empty pool of nothing to stack up behind it.
As for "TwitterDeck" requiring to be coded for 100 different kinds of Android, I'm fairly sure that there aren't 100 different kinds.. I mean sure, there are many different variations of Android, but they all still use the same vanilla Android underneath, so no special 'recoding' need be done for Samsung's TouchWiz UI, nor does it need to be done for HTC's Sense UI. Maybe he might be trying to exaggerate for drama, 'Jobs would never..' and include all the way back to Donut. That stil doesn't rank up to 100.. Thats 5 and the only variation on top of that would be hi-res and low-res versions of the app, so for a blatant number, lets throw out 10, at most.
Steve is only lashing out because he's starting to feel threatened by Android. Poking fun of RIM? Really? Sure their devices aren't as powerful as the iDevices or high-end Android phones, but unfortunately they're both inferior to RIM's Blackberry platform in one way, solid messaging. The way the BIS/BES works still topples messaging/emails on iOS and Android by far. The rest of the OS and the amount of high quality app development does leave something to be desired, thats obvious. With a foremost business platform, it should be expected in their time of turning over a new leaf to have nothing to come back with. Give RIM some time and things will improve on their end.

Reading if your not a iOS fanboi now feels like reading the Huffington Post if you're not liberal. Seems that a lot of iOS fanbois keep bringing up the fragmentation “issue” as the key reason why iOS is better than Android, just like Android fanbois keep talking about how the platform is “open”. What both sides forget about is the actual user experience which is very good on both platforms. The iOS has more polish but some could argue that Android is more efficient and more functional for certain users than iOS. These quotes by Jobs are more politics than truth and unfortunately a lot of his supporters, just like Democrats and Republicans fall for his line of thinking (and Google’s) hook line sinker. It becomes an issue of us vs. them with only one winner, which isn’t reality. Android won’t cause the ruin of iOS, but iOS isn’t going to stop Android’s momentum. I’m tired of hearing about fragmentation, openness, and closed OSs. I don’t care how hard or easy it is for a dev to develop an app. Just tell me how well they work and that there’s a big enough number of them to let me do what I can do with them.

Steve Jobs has always spoken like this, since day one. Ask anyone who has worked with him. What's rare is to hear it in public.

Too bad iPhone runs on AT&T - in DC it is HORRIBLE. I mean you drop calls WALKING let alone driving and standing still. I've heard it's not so bad elsewhere, but here it was so bad I bailed and went back to Verizon.
No question iPhone software is cooler, easier, sleeker - but the droid stuff ain't bad either.

He must be feeling a bit pressured by user requests for features in other OSes that iOS isn't implementing and interfere with his "creative vision". So he's lashing out at these other companies and sticking his foot in his mouth instead.

The problem with iOS is not the hardware. The problem is Supernanny Steve jobs, who is restricting my choices. The market is going to go with choice. I dont want to live in Apple's gilded cage, and I doubt most other people do either. It doesn't matter to me if it "just works" if it is missing half the features (and all of the customization) it's competitor is providing. The 1984 Mac commercial cant possibly be more ironic. These little hissy fits he throws are evidence that Android is really getting to him.

The problem with only one hardware setup is that if the antenna is bad for reception in that design all of the phones are going to have it. However, I didn't like the reception on my first android, so I returned it for a different one. Now I love my signal and my network. I guess apple fans can enjoy AT&T and antennagate right?

I couldn't even read this article without cringing. I may not particularly like Apple or it's constant fight against jailbreakers or tinkerers, but even Apple fanboys have to admit this whole piece (especially the last few paragraphs) comes through as way too worshipful of Steve Jobs. I don't think this was some master stroke by a tactical genius, I think he had some talking points to bring up and got overly defensive about the competition encroaching on his space.
I don't think Android is perfect, but it's not the forsaken hell hole he would like people to think it is. It honestly feels like he's trying to scare people away from trying other things. "It's a scary world outside the walled garden. Stay here where we can keep you safe!" Apple seems more and more like a religion with every passing day, and it's sad that people put so much stock and faith into a COMPANY.

At least Palm phones are completely open, not at all fragmented, and have the eye candy of iOS. Now if only they would release better hardware and get better marketing...

Kinda getting tired of the "apple devices just work" myth. As one who has had to deal with a resource hogging, sometimes crashing itunes, and an iPod Touch that does sometimes suffer like any other device from maxed processors and memory freeing; not to mention locked and/or corrupted media databases from time to time. The difference between Apple and others are that the other guys at least admit the mistakes and issues and give you tools (or allow tools to be made) to deal with them. If your media database on device becomes corrupted the only advice iTunes gives you is a reset, i.e. "wipe the device clean and start over". Are you kidding me??

For all the beauty and music video glitter of my iphone 4, it's still my Blackberry that I turn to for communications; an instrument that is solid, well built, fun, and also reliable.

I had an iphone and honestly the app store is convenient for having all apps organized and readily available to download. I think Jobs is not realizing that most blackberry users could care less aboUt an app market when u can download blackberry apps by searching in google, directly from your phone I might add. The blackberry just works in my opinion, I can hear my phone call, have a keyboard, have a decent operating system thanks to b os 6 and a better browser. And my torch has a nice touch screen. I also have a playstation to play need for speed I have a blackberry to communicate.