Catfight! Get out your mobile phones and start filming, because two important personalities in the mobile world just got into a catfight. After the presentation of Apple’s (once again) stellar quarterly results (what’s with the low iPad sales, though?), Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs went on a bit of a tangent regarding Android (among other things). Google’s Andy Rubin, the father of Android, responded in a pretty fun way via Twitter.
While Steve Jobs’ long statement was clearly a prepared one, he truly displayed a little bit of agitation and passion, which is a welcome change from the bland North Koreanesque shows we get to see during staged press events. When talking about Android, Jobs focused on it being a fragmented platform, a platform that will not win due to its non-integrated nature. He also challenged the open nature of Android.
“Google loves to characterize Android as open and iPhone as closed. We see this disingenuous and clouding the difference,” Jobs said, “The first thing we think of when we hear open is Windows [ed. note: lolwut?], which is available on a lot of devices. Unlike Windows, where PCs have the same interface, Android is very fragmented. HTC and Motorola install proprietary user interfaces to differentiate themselves. The user left to figure it out.”
“Even if Google was right and the real issue was closed vs open, it’s worth remembering open doesn’t always win,” he continued, “In reality we think the open vs. closed argument is just a smokescreen to try and hide the real issue which is: what’s best for the customer, fragmented or integrated? We think Android is very fragmented and becoming more fragmented by the day. We prefer integrated so the user doesn’t have to be the systems integrator.”
While Jobs has a point about the fragmentation from a developer’s point of view, I’m not so sure about customers. Who cares if a Samsung device has a slightly different UI than one from HTC? Will people be using them side-by-side? Of course they won’t – they’ll have one phone for the coming two years, and then move on to something new, and even if that’s one sporting a slightly different skin, much of the Android experience is still the same. I’ve been fiddling with both Sense and Samsung’s UI, and apart from looks, they don’t appear to be too different at all. Nothing the car-brand-switching and TV-brand-switching crowd can’t handle.
So, how does the father of Android, Andy Rubin, respond to all this? Angry? Fearful? Sad? None of that – in his first ever tweet he responds to Jobs’ words as matter-of-factly as can be.
the definition of open: “mkdir android ; cd android ; repo init -u git://android.git.kernel.org/platform/manifest.git ; repo sync ; make”
I couldn’t agree more. I’m not a die-hard Free/open source advocate like some of you, so in my mind, there’s nothing wrong with Google placing some demands on access to Google’s services like the Marketplace or the use of the Android trademark. I mean, Haiku and Red Hat (among other open source projects/companies) place similar restrictions on the use of their trademark/services, and rightfully so.
Nothing is stopping a CentOS-like initiative for Android if people are really concerned, and that is exactly why Android is open, no matter how Cupertino tries to spin it the other way around.
Jobs had more to say, more specifically, on 7″ tablets. Some people were hoping for a 7″ version of the iPad, but Jobs pretty much slammed the door on that one by going on a bit of a rant about 7″ tablets. He stated that 7″ is too small for finger-friendly use, quipping that they ought to ship with sandpaper to grind down your fingers. Why the tiny keyboard on the 3.5″ iPhone is all good is a mystery to all.