Apple Fires Salvo at Competition despite $20 Billion Revenue Report

by Matt Klassen on October 20, 2010

There are a lot of things going right for Apple these days with news that the company posted its highest revenue and after-tax income ever, bolstered by record-setting iPhone, iPad, and even Mac sales. For many CEOs, having their companies achieve such milestones would be a cause for celebration; for Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs, such an event is apparently cause for lambasting his company’s closest competition.

In the earnings report released Monday Apple saw profits of almost $4.5 billion dollars on revenues topping $20 billion dollars, this compared to the $2.53 billion on revenues of $12.21 billion Apple saw last year during the same quarter. This was enough to garner an unexpected visit from Steve Jobs at the company’s earnings call, but it didn’t take long for his true intentions to emerge.

While topping the $20 billion dollar revenue mark was exciting, Jobs had strong words for Android, Research in Motion, developers and potential customers. The message: Android and RIM are unworthy of your investment; Apple is the only safe bet… or perhaps the real message was hidden beneath his words, a message of fear from the potential threat his competitors pose to his company’s success.

I will admit that with astronomical revenues being generated from a relatively paltry line-up of devices, if there ever was a justification for Steve Job’s cocksure attitude, that would be it. But with Jobs taking the opportunity following the release of the company’s quarterly earnings to poke fun at Android, to wave goodbye to RIM, and to discredit most of the upcoming tablet offerings set for release, it strikes me less as a the stately speech of a confident leader and more the whiny bitching of a scared little man.

He began his tirade by focusing on RIM, the maker of the ubiquitous Blackberry phones, and whom Apple has just past for top spot in quarterly sales. “We’ve now passed RIM” Jobs announced, to which he added, “And I don’t see them catching up with us in the foreseeable future…I think it’s going to be a challenge for them to create a competitive platform and convince developers to create apps for it,” especially with Android and Apple dominated the consumer landscape.

While such news is nothing new around the tech world, is it really necessary for Jobs to take time out of a quarterly earning report to state it?

Jobs didn’t stay with RIM long before moving the focus of his fire to Apple’s closest competitor, Google’s popular Android operating system. While Jobs had a great deal to say about Android, discrediting the search engine giant’s Android sales figures for the first quarter and questioning the value of an open source mobile operating system, he saved most of his ammunition for Android’s supposed fragmentation issues.

Since Android is an open source program its code is made available to all people, meaning that developers and manufacturers can alter Android to suit their needs. Although this has been the greatest selling point for Android, Steve Jobs sees it as the OS’s greatest weakness. “We think the ‘open’ versus ‘closed’ argument is a smokescreen for what’s really best for the customers,” said Jobs. “We think Android is very, very fragmented and becomes more so every day. We think this is a huge strength of our approach when compared to Google’s. We think integrated will trump fragmented every time.”

Add to all that an extended jab at the various tablets set to compete with the iPad come Christmas, and investors and analysts got more than they bargained for at what was supposed to be a simple earnings report. But was any of this necessary? To me, not only is there such thing as being a sore winner, but there is a greater truth hidden beneath Jobs’ strong words: He’s scared of the threat Android poses, he hopes RIM won’t see a renewal, and he is praying none of his competitors produce a tablet that exceeds the iPad.

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