Smack-down: Apple v. Google

Faith Merino · October 19, 2010 · Short URL:

Jobs calls Android "fragmented," Rubin responds with unintelligible engineering code

Oh, snap!  Google and Apple are in a trash-talk war.  Actually, Apple’s Steve Jobs is doing the trash-talking (listen below) and Google head of Android engineering, Andy Rubin, responded with his first tweet ever: a garbled mash of engineering code speak. 

Rubin tweeted: ‘the definition of open: “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init –u git:// ; repo sync ; make"’

The text translates as a set of commands for loading the Android software onto a unix system.  That’s right, Apple.  You just got served.

Rubin’s tweet comes in response to Apple’s fourth quarter earnings call on Monday, when Steve Jobs took a solid five minutes to criticize Google’s Android operating system, calling Google’s characterization of its system as open and Apple’s iOS as closed “disingenuous” and “clouding the real difference between our two approaches.”

“The first thing most of us think of when we hear the word ‘open’ is Windows, which is available on a variety of devices,” said Jobs.  “Unlike Windows, however, where most PCs run the same user interface and the same apps, Android is very fragmented.”

In short, Jobs said that when considering whether a system is open, one should think in terms of integration versus fragmentation.  Because different Android devices run different versions of Android depending on the manufacturer and carrier, app developers have to create several different versions of their apps to stretch across the entire operating system.  “Compare that to the iPhone,” said Jobs, “where every app is the same.”

On this note, Jobs points out that he believes app developers can be more innovative when working on a singular, integrated platform, rather than expending all of their energy on testing among a variety of different variants.

Jobs went on to say that, either way, “open systems don’t always win.”  He brings up Microsoft’s old playsforsure model, which separated the software and hardware components.  Microsoft, Jobs reminded his audience, abandoned this model in favor of an Apple-like integrated approach with their Zune player.

Apple also threw out some numbers to emphasize its Goliath-like domination of the OS platform market.  According to Jobs, some 275,000 iOS devices are activated every day, and on some occasions that number has reached 300,000, compared to Google, which announced in August that it’s now activating 200,000 Android devices each day.  What Jobs neglected to address was the fact that that number represented a doubling of Android devices activated per day compared to May, when Google was activating 100,000 devices a day.  If that rate of growth continues, Android could be outpacing Apple by November. 

Jobs brushed off RIM, stating matter-of-factly that “we’ve now passed RIM and I don’t see them catching up in the near future.” 


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