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Did Jobs Really Say That?

Mon, 02/01/2010 - 2:06pm

Myriad reports, originating with Wired over the weekend, are relaying what Apple CEO Steve Jobs said or allegedly said during a town hall-style meeting with employees last week after the big splash of the iPad announcement. (Stop with the iPad jokes already; has no one ever written on a pad of paper?)

You’ve no doubt seen the headlines about Jobs' comments. A few of the big ones, paraphrased here: Google, or more specifically, Android teams within Google want to kill the iPhone, and Google’s Don’t Be Evil mantra is either BS or crap. Jobs also reportedly said that Adobe is “lazy,” or something to that effect, and he may have been comparing today’s Adobe to the one of years ago.

I wasn’t there, so I have no idea what Jobs did or did not say. So far, Apple hasn’t said anything official one way or the other that I’m aware of. But assuming the general themes of the reports are true, none of them should come as too much of a surprise. Inflammatory and, like, “Wow,” come to mind. But anyone watching the Google/Apple relationship from the sidelines can see there’s friction brewing (or boiling) there, although it should be noted that Google CEO Eric Schmidt, in an earnings conference call last month, said Apple is a “very well run” company with “a lot of very good stuff coming.” He merely acknowledged that Google competes with Apple “in a couple of areas.” Ah, yeah.

As for Adobe, I don’t think it deserves the adjective of “lazy.” People for years have been asking when Flash would be available on the iPhone, and it always appears to go back to Apple’s court. It looks like Adobe engineers have tried all kinds of things to make Flash work on the iPhone. At MAX 2009 last year, Adobe announced the Packager for iPhone to allow Flash developers to create native iPhone apps. At the time I talked with Adobe representatives, they didn’t think Apple would have a problem with that. However, it was designed as one way to bring Flash to the iPhone; what was then and is now still lacking is Flash Player for the Safari browser.

The other big declaration that Jobs made last week – and this was in the public domain – is that Apple’s mobile device business, based on revenue, is even bigger than Nokia’s. A few people took exception to that, including Nokia.

Initially, I raised an eyebrow at Jobs’ assertion but let it go. After reviewing the video of his keynote now posted on Apple’s site, Jobs is actually counting iPods, iPhones and Mac laptops. I get that these are all mobile devices in the sense that you can take them pretty much wherever you happen to go. I also get that many products in the emerging device category are not your traditional devices. But I just don’t get counting these types of devices quite in the same way you count the mobile and converged devices coming out of Nokia. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned.

There’s no doubt that Apple has been and is a brilliantly innovative product company. There’s no doubt that Nokia really, really needs to bring a “wow” device to the U.S. market. But let’s look at some numbers. In the last three months of 2009, Apple sold 8.7 million iPhones, 21 million iPods and 3.36 million Macs, totaling about 33 million. Nokia shipped 126.9 million mobile devices in that quarter. There’s a big difference there. 

In its latest handset research release, Strategy Analytics puts Nokia’s fourth-quarter smartphone market share at 39 percent and Apple’s at about 16 percent. Research In Motion (RIM) had about 20 percent share in the quarter.

To say that Apple is the No. 1 mobile device company in the world might be accurate if you include a qualifier in there, such as “the No. 1 mobile device company in the world that sells the iPhone.” But really, to declare itself the largest mobile device company in the world rings a bit disingenuous.

 

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