Steve Jobs: Google uses "open" as a smokescreen for "fragmented".

Making a surprise appearance during Apple's Q4 2010 conference call today, Steve Jobs tore into Google on the issue of openness. Jobs basically said Google uses openness as a smokescreen for fragmented, while Apple prefers an integrated software/hardware business model.

Apple makes devices that just work, Jobs said, while Google expects the customers to be systems integrators and figure out multiple different hardware and now even app stores as Verizon, Amazon, and Vodafone start rolling their own markets. For developers, considering everything from testing to selling, it becomes a mess.

Some highlights, paraphrased:

  • SJ: Google activating 200,000 Android devices a day, 90,000 apps. Apple activating 275,000 iOS devices on average, 300,000 peek. Apple has 300,000 apps in its app store.
  • SJ: No sold data on how many Android handsets sold. Manufacturers don't report it. Hopes they will. Waits to see who was the winner in most recent quarter.
  • SJ: Google likes to say Android is open, iOS is closed. Jobs finds that disingenuous. Unlike Windows, Android is very fragmented. Many Android OEMS including Motorola and HTC install proprietary UI, user is left to figure it all out. Every iPhone walks the same. TweetDeck recently launched Twitter Client, had to contend with 100 different versions on 244 different handsets. Many apps only work on some handsets on some versions, on devices shipped less than 12 months ago.
  • SJ: Amazon, Verizon, Voda all creating their own app stores. Customers much search, devs much figure out. Going to be a mess. iOS App Store is one stop shopping.
  • SJ: Even if Google was right, open systems don't always win. PlaysForSure used separated model, even Microsoft abandoned that, turned to Zune, left OEM empty handed.
  • SJ: Open vs. closed is smokescreen. What's better for customer, fragmented or integrated? Android is getting more fragmented every day. Users shouldn't be system integrators. Huge difference in approach. Apple thinks just works will trump Google's approach every time. Better for developers.
  • SJ: Apple confident integrated will triumph over Google no matter how much Google calls it open.

TiPb's been saying for a while that Android is open for carriers and manufacturers, not end users, but Jobs' take was certainly more calculated. What does he gain by taking it to Google like this?

Have something to say about this story? Share your comments below! Need help with something else? Submit your question!

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Steve Jobs: Google uses "open" as a smokescreen for "fragmented".

29 Comments

Its one I wont buy any android device. Id rather deal with just apple than a company like Verizon limiting my user experience on a device they didnt even make...

Hmmm someone is feeling the pain from Android it seems. I think overall what's best is choice. Give your customers choice on what kind of device you want and people will and are responding.

Steve could have done this on Wednesday with equal effect. So, why break from the norm and do it again. I'd bet that he will echo this again during the 'Back to the Mac' presentation and take an additional step. The did state that there was still more to come THIS YEAR. The people who sold off today may regret it.

SJ is correct, so called android is truly fragmented, a hodge pode of hardwares made by different makers, and to different standards. Iphone is one of several overlapping, yet integeated and complementary, products (ipad, ipod, pc), perfected by one sponsor. Apple products is the ultimate maker of mobile digital comunication and broadcast systems.

If a user can operate an Android phone correctly, Android is the better choice. If a user can't, they buy the iPhone. This is the reason why Apple fanboys can't backup their reasoning when they say the iPhone is better than Android.

@mdigest
the hardware is so different because all google does is provide the base os and then the makers(samsung,htc,moto) can put some other stuff on it if they want. google doesnt "make" phones like apple does. even the nexus one was made by htc. but on the software side, apple is the same way. for example on the 3g. when it was updated to the most recent version of iOS it still doesnt have wallpaper support(really? kinda sad) and multitasking and some other "brand new features" that were in iOS4. so i dont see the fragmentation all that different between the 2.

@Brian
That as insulting a comment as gets posted here. The idea that the only reason someone would choose the iPhone over the Android is if they are not smart enough to operate an Android is ludicrous. I am sure there are many happy users of Phones who are much brighter than you can imagine yourself to be. I do agree though that there are people who will choose iPhone over Android do to its ease of use and shorter learning curve, but that does not work as a measure of their intelligence.
The fact that you and many others choose Android is fine; it's a very impressive platform but so is iOS. What always seems to be lost on these forums is that the average user neither reads nor posts here; we tend to be enthusiasts. You're argument assumes that everyone should want to use a device that you (in your opinion) see as superior but admittedly more difficult to use. Well, the truth is many people have no interest in mobile phones as an avocation. They consider them tools and they like the fact that it is simple. It's not that they can't learn a more complicated platform...they just don't want to.

Umm, does no one see that there are existing iPod touch and older iPhone users that can't use the new apps that are coming out because they require the most up to date ios?
Just because Apple cheerleaders like to part with their money every year Jobs decides to release a new product doesn't mean that I do as well.
Sure Tweetdeck or whomever can release a new update but too bad if you don't have the latest and greatest. You are left out in the cold. Same for Android, release a new app, have to contend with the older hardware, software, etc...
Open your eyes, or give them your money.

Okay, Stop me if you have heard this joke before . . . so Apple is consistent and Android is fragmented and Google uses a smoke screen and Jobs tells the truth every time.
As a happy apple user for many years I take issue with this BS. Apple's mobile devices are fragmented and have been for some time just like Android is. Neither OS is keeping every phone on the market at the same OS level. For very similar if not the same reason, hardware, hardware, hardware. What you were capable of building yesterday, that was designed 1-2 years ago is not going to run the latest and most update OS, regardless of Android or iOS.
Apple controls the OS experience sure that is a big benefit, but they also rule the land, the sky, the air, the water, food, drink, sleep etc, etc. You cannot do anything unless apple says so. The only reason Jobs relaxed the rules was 1) fear of a court ruling either in the US or EU, and 2) Google is biting their arse and gaining everyday.
Apple claims quality over quantity, sure that is one view, but so is they want to keep your upgrade money coming each year with only one device available on one carrier (for now anyways). Google/Android allows you many, many, many different carriers, phone choices, manufacturer choices, features etc. Sure you can get overwhelmed with choice, but at least you have a CHOICE!
Apple designs their own equipment (they don't make it) and Google designed their concept and IF they had pushed hard enough we could finally have broken the carrier hold. Wouldn't that be nice.
Its about choice, tech wars are fun, but in the end neither side can actually win, when both companies cannot be trusted, yes BOTH companies cannot be trusted. I do not need Jobs reaching into my iOS devices and tracking, logging, controlling and blocking what he feels is not acceptable to him. Its my choice and I chose freedom.
Thanks.

  • SJ: Google activating 200,000 Android devices a day, 90,000 apps. Apple activating 275,000 iOS devices on average, 300,000 peek. Apple has 300,000 apps in its app store.

1) Android was only on phones at the time of their activation numbers, Jobs is using iTouch's, iPhones, iPads so a tad bit skewed, and Jobs never provides any PROOF of his numbers.
* SJ: No sold data on how many Android handsets sold. Manufacturers don’t report it. Hopes they will. Waits to see who was the winner in most recent quarter.
2) Carriers sell the phones, Samsung already announced they sold 5 Million plus Galaxy S devices worldwide so again Jobs speaks without knowing the full facts.
* SJ: Google likes to say Android is open, iOS is closed. Jobs finds that disingenuous. Unlike Windows, Android is very fragmented. Many Android OEMS including Motorola and HTC install proprietary UI, user is left to figure it all out. Every iPhone walks the same. TweetDeck recently launched Twitter Client, had to contend with 100 different versions on 244 different handsets. Many apps only work on some handsets on some versions, on devices shipped less than 12 months ago.
3) choice is better than no choice. Google should address this and require the mfg's to offer the option to turn off their unique UI, still there's an app for that called Launch Pro + which will give you the look, feel and interface of a stock droid, hey and tis FREE. You CANNOT change the appearance on your iPhone unless you jailbreak as many do.
* SJ: Amazon, Verizon, Voda all creating their own app stores. Customers much search, devs much figure out. Going to be a mess. iOS App Store is one stop shopping.
4) I use AppBrain which plugs right into the Android Market Place, so what if there are multiple App Stores, that is the way its been and just because Jobs says one store to rule you does not make it so. I prefer to pick my favorite store, Devs should see that as a way to generate more profit and more options compared to getting lost in the Fart Machine loaded App Store where you cannot find anything easily.
* SJ: Even if Google was right, open systems don’t always win. PlaysForSure used separated model, even Microsoft abandoned that, turned to Zune, left OEM empty handed.
5) MS botches a lot of things, but Apple hasn't stepped up and challenged the Zune with an all you can eat music plan for the iTunes world. Why, they wont make as much money, and the music labels won't kow tow to Jobs (this time)
* SJ: Open vs. closed is smokescreen. What’s better for customer, fragmented or integrated? Android is getting more fragmented every day. Users shouldn’t be system integrators. Huge difference in approach. Apple thinks just works will trump Google’s approach every time. Better for developers.
6) Sorry but this one doesn't make sense to me but here goes. Google is fragmented because of open options for developers to put their apps in carrier stores where users will impulse purchase and bill to their phone bill and in turn make them money. Developers will have to update their apps to multiple stores, and make more money (ouch that huts). Apple still will reject your app based on their whim and say too bad, Android won't, again bad for developers when they make money. If your app is rouge and causes issues the Android community will make it known, its a more open OS. Apple has security breaches and fraud is an issue, bad for users and developers.
* SJ: Apple confident integrated will triumph over Google no matter how much Google calls it open.
8) So what is integrated, the multiple iOS devices that may or may not have the same iOS on them and may or may not have tethering options without losing your data plans. Integrated in the way they work with Mac's, Android does too and with more open apps that will tie right into iTunes etc.
Why not go cloud base, get a Pogoplug, use Zumodrive or DropBox, forget MobileMe and certainly forget iTunes which continues to get bloated and doesn't have the key open benefits of streaming your media to your mobile device outside of your home.
I don't have to defend my position, I do enjoy my Apple products and my MBPro does run windows 7 when I need it to no complaints, what I can't stand is the excuses and koolaid attitude when it comes to Jobs.

Android is a cool, complicated, fragmented mess. WP7 is intruguing but late to the party and on homogenous, uninspired hardware. iOS is simple to use but requires succumbing to the Will of Steve or risking his wrath by jailbreaking. Blackberry is efficient, dull, and tired. webOS is idealistic but poorly habdled and on old, weak hardware. Meego is exciting vaporware from a skilled and too-slow manufacturer.
There IS no perfect model (Carriers screw up everything). At least Google doesn't act like everything they do is The One True Way, or spout off regularly about how everyone else is an idiot.

@raptor... who the F(rank) has a zune.... like 14 people? and your zune pass. pretty sure you get to "keep" 10 songs a month.. thats a ton for 14.99 a month... gtf outta here

I recently bought a media player from Netgear and had a apple/other manufacturers culture shock. I had gotten used to how Apple products just work, and I didn't have to become an expert to use it, instead of needing to become a dvd encryption/movie format expert.
That's the difference to me. I am in the market for something that just works, and i don't have to learn how it operates under the hood.
Google's fragmentation and Android strikes me as the latter if you want to get the best out of it. I haven't got the time. (more than 1 app store??! come on I haven't got time or patience to search 7 different places for what I want!)
Apple are selling a user experience that allows me to use the phone and get on with my life, rather than spend time tweaking it until I get it how I want it, and I'm buying.
It's got nothing to do with Fanboyism, this is all about making something easy and intuitive to use. Fragmentation works counter-productively to that.

p.s the closed nature of iOS hasn't been an issue for me - with the exception of bluetoothing pictures to other phones here hasn't once been something I wished the iphone would have done that it doesn't already do.

HAHAHAHAHA LMAO .. Tweetdeck CEO just called out STEVE JOBS .. saying Android "fragmentation" is not an issue .. Check it out on Engadget .. Another Steve Jobs Tirade FAIL

Google is just the new Microsoft. Android is... WTF is Android, anyway? Who the frak cares! It will morph into something else in 3 years time and everyone will forget all of the technobabble wars mumbo jumbo! Apple will remain Apple - they've always controlled their devices and OS and nothing will change much. They'll just relax their hold a little to compete with the rival platforms and placate the those who make the most noise and complain about it.

So choice in how your phone's UI is fragmented?
Jobs is sounding more idiotic each day, seriously.
Then he wants to say that different App Stores will cause confusion? How...
If Android Market is still the main market...what's the point? I don't think having different sources to get apps on your phone has confused any of the millions upon millions of owners yet. SMH.
When Jobs gives a factual statement...I'll listen more closely.

@iDavey
I know how Steve and DACS42 feel. Just the other day I wanted to by some apples, but they had both Fuji and Granny Smith! To top it off, they had apples both at Vons and at Albertsons! I was so confused I went home hungry and hid in the corner. I hope someday someone can make fruit shopping easy enough for people like me.

lol, quick where's Rene the fanboi to come rescue his post and his messiah El Jobs from the lashing he is getting.
Apple app store is horrible, hard to find products when filled with garbage apps too. iPad app store is even worse with the horrible loading times and starting at the top of list when I scroll back a page, I have to reload all the damn lists again.
I will give Apple credit where it is due, they did create a great product with the 3GS, otherwise, they are still severely lacking in basic phone features (call fwd indicator from another phone for example)
An arbitrary approval process, where is Skyfire??
and overpriced accessories.
If Jobs thinks that the majority of people buying his products now that they have gain mass appeal think they are the loyal Mac heads that were in the beginning, he is in for a nasty surprise.
btw, Apple Genius at the Apple Store, why wouldn't I want to run with my iphone again?? cuz it has moving parts and not made for exercise?? Why is the Nike app built in to my phone then.

@(Copy of) Dev
Heehee! Nice response... :-) Can't really argue against that, but then you don't need to know how the apple is constructed at a molecular level to enjoy them either! :-)