The Economic Times of India and The Week are among the sites covering an interview with Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing. The interview is a preemptive strike at the launch of the Galaxy S4, which is slated for today in New York City.
All in all, Schiller’s comments come across with a sour-grapes feel. Essentially, Schiller said that most people with Android-based devices are using old versions of the operating system – the same, of course, can be said of iPhones and iOS – that fragmentation is a big problem for Android, that people do more with their iPhones than with Android-based devices, that more people are switching from Android to iOS than vice versa and that the Apple experience is superior. Galaxy S4, Schiller points out, is rumored to be launching with a year-old version of Android.
The big news in the world of smartphones is that the tides have shifted to the extent that a horse race has been created. Even a year ago, the idea that a device could even reasonably challenge the iPhone would seem strange, if not just laughable. I am not sure that Steve Jobs would play the role of taking shots at a competitor’s big launch if he were alive, or even if it would be done. Nonetheless, hearing from somebody with whom the public is unfamiliar robs the critique of much of its gravitas.
The Week said that the launch – which is scheduled for Radio City Music Hall in New York City this evening – has gotten under Apple’s skin. Besides the content of the comments, the site pointed out that Apple rarely comments directly on competitors:
Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller’s strident criticism of Samsung, and the Google Android operating system it uses to control its handsets, is a “clear signal” the Californian company is worried about the buzz surrounding tonight’s launch of the Galaxy S4, analysts said.
It also is worth pointing out that more than pride is at stake here. CityIndex reports that Apple’s stock price is down 39 percent since its September high. It has lost value for six straight months. A successful launch by its biggest competitor doesn’t figure to reverse that dire trending.
The Financial Post has a very nice roundup of what is expected from the new phone, which is the first that Samsung is introducing in the United States.
Last week, I wrote a post suggesting that companies face challenges in transitioning from being the top dog to equal inhabitants of the kennel. The comments by Schiller are evidence that Apple at least recognizes that the landscape has changed. How Apple deals with a more even playing field remains to be seen.
That’s a handy segue into another piece of news about a smartphone maker in the throes of transition. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that one of BlackBerry’s “established partners” is buying 1 million BlackBerry 10 phones. The story did not provide details on the buyer of the company’s phones, which run on the BlackBerry 10 operating system that was introduced in January.
Among the key outstanding questions is whether the buyer bought the Z10, the Q10 or a mix. It is wise to take news in which the identity of the buyer is not revealed with a grain of salt. That being said, the 1-million-device figure – the biggest sale in the company’s history – certainly is a big positive sign as the race to be the third mobile OS continues.