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10/19/2010
11:33 PM
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Steve Jobs Declares War On Google

Emphasizing great products and customer experiences vs. Google's "fragmented" approach, Jobs calls out Google as self-centered, disingenuous, and off-target.

Tearing into Google as a disingenuous opportunist focused on fragmentation over simplicity and unit volume over customer value, Apple CEO Steve Jobs this week laid bare his ambitions to beat Google in not only smartphones and tablets but also in the race for the hearts and minds of people looking to connect viscerally to the wired world of today and tomorrow.

While Jobs participated in Apple's earnings call with analysts ostensibly to highlight his company's first $20-billion quarter—surely a remarkable achievement—a close examination of his prepared remarks shows that Jobs used that high-profile opportunity to hammer Google on multiple fronts:

--Google's daily activation volumes, which Jobs said Apple now exceeds by almost 40%;

--Google's volume of apps in its apps store, which Jobs said Apple now exceeds by 220%;

--Google's derision of Apple's platforms as closed, which Jobs said is commentary fit for an open sewer;

--Google's treatment of developers, which Jobs said forces them to spend time tweaking and testing for 244 individual Android handset versions, versus 2 for Apple;

--Google's propagation of four different app stores versus Apple's single App Store;

--Google's willingness to force its customers to be integrators, which Jobs said is at odds with Apple's single-minded focus on doing what's best for customers—a philosophy that Jobs said ensures that "the user isn't forced to be the systems integrator"; and

--Google's lack of readiness with Android for the tablet, which Jobs said has resulted in Google telling developers not to build for the current Froyo release but instead to wait for a new tablet-specific version sometime in 2011.

For CIOs, this is not just drive-by commentary of the rich and powerful—rather, it's a peek into the future of what could very well be driving your IT strategies and deployments: the mobile devices that are becoming the real-time revenue-generating tools for not just your sales teams but for many (most? all?) of your creative and market-facing employees.

In that context, Jobs' scathing comments about Google's products, its strategy, and its regard for customers and developers have enormous import as you begin to build out or accelerate your buildout of your mobile and customer-centric business-technology strategy.

Now, we all know that competitors trash each other all the time, and that often those public rants are woefully out of step with reality, representing a fantasy world that the big-talking but short-walking competitor only wishes were actually the case. And so maybe Steve Jobs is merely howling at the moon and yapping at Google in hope of deflecting attention from something he doesn't want the rest of us to see.

But, while no company that's come before us or that's yet to be could ever lay claim to being faultless, Apple right now is operating at such a high-octane level of precision, excellence, and innovation that it's almost impossible to find flaw with its strategy, execution, operations, timing, positioning, products, or aspirations.

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And perhaps Steve Jobs, sensing that life in such rarified air can breed within Apple complacency and that dangerous belief that the company is indeed without peer, decided it was time to call out the biggest, gnarliest, and most-feared bully in the schoolyard—that would be Google—and very publicly label it as bloated, dim-witted, and overblown.

Consider these razor-sharp comments about Google from Jobs (I transcribed the recording of the earnings call, but you can read the full text here) at seekingalpha.com:

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